Are Property Owners Liable for Accidents
Involving Children & Teens?
Under Pennsylvania law, a property owner can be held liable for injuries to children and teens which occur on the property. This applies not only to actual property owners, but also to individuals and businesses which lease property.
Under Pennsylvania laws, an owner/tenant’s liability for accidents and injuries depends on the status of the person who was injured: invitee, licensee, or trespasser.
Under negligence law in Pennsylvania, landowners (and tenants) who invite others to their properties are required to take reasonable care to avoid known and unknown dangers on the property. With respect to people invited onto a property, the owner is required to conduct reasonable inspections of the property to identify unknown or hidden dangers. This applies to businesses like a grocery store or shopping mall and also applies to private homeowners. For example, a homeowner who invites others to their property must take reasonable precautions to avoid accidents and injuries, this includes notifying guests of hidden dangers.
A child or teen may be present on another person’s property as a licensee, instead of as an invitee. This means that the child/teen is on the property with direct or implied permission of the property owner. Therefore, the child is a licensee rather than an invitee. The duty a property owner owes to a licensee is slightly different than the duty owed to an invitee. An owner/tenant is only required to warn of known dangers.
For example, a property owner in Philadelphia allows neighborhood children to cut through his yard on their way to school. The property owner is having work done on the property and digs a large hole near the path the children take. If a child who is cutting through the yard falls into the ditch and suffers serious injuries, the owner would probably be liable if he failed to take reasonable precautions, such as putting up warning signs, marking the hole off, etc.
A child or teen may trespass, i.e., go onto property without any authority to do so whatsoever. For example, a teen who is on a stranger’s property at night, without permission, is trespassing. Under PA law, property owners are required to refrain from willfully injuring trespassers, i.e., setting up traps to catch trespassers.
Accident & Injury Lawyers in Philadelphia
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