Children and premises liability in Connecticut: What parents should know

Property owners in Connecticut are held to a higher standard of care when it comes to ensuring the area is safe for children.

When an accident happens on someone else's property, the person involved may have grounds to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for damages. When the victim is a child, Connecticut law has specific guidelines regarding how the owner of the property may be held liable. In addition to knowing those laws, parents can also take specific measures to keep their children safe.

What is considered premises liability?

Property owners generally owe a duty of care to people who are legally in the their space. When owners are in some way negligent and it leads to an accident, someone may be able to hold them liable. According to Connecticut law, property owners are responsible for the safety of invitees, or people who are either implied or expressly invited to the area, and licensees, who are on the property for their own purpose but are legally there.

Trespassers, conversely, generally are not owed any duty of care. Therefore, an owner does not heed to have warned a trespasser of any hazardous condition.

What about child trespassers?

Connecticut law holds owners to a higher standard of care when it comes to children, even those who are considered to be trespassers. The statute notes that if an owner knows or should know that children would be attracted to the property, he or she must ensure that dangerous conditions are remedied or that children would not be able to access hazardous areas.

What are common hazards children may be attracted to?

Parents should teach children to avoid the following:

  • Construction sites
  • Areas that appear poorly maintained
  • Broken or damaged stairwells and walkways

Both public and private properties can pose a threat to a child. For example, a privately owned apartment building may have a stairwell that has fallen into disrepair. If the landlord fails to fix it or close access to it and a child suffers an injury, the landlord could be held responsible.

Likewise, a public area, like Hammonasset Beach or Lighthouse Point, may have benches, play structures or other areas that require routine maintenance. The law states that if an owner or the party responsible for a property knows that there is an unreasonable risk of harm to children, the situation must be remedied.

What if a child does suffer an injury due to a property owner's negligence?

A claim citing premises liability must be filed within two years of the incident, according to Connecticut law. For a lawsuit to be successful, the law notes that several conditions must be present. The child must have been injured on the property, and the owner must have known or have reason to know that children would be attracted to it. Further, the owner must have either known or had reason to know about the dangerous condition. The court will also take into account whether or not the child would be able to assess the risk of the situation.

Property owners who fail to exercise reasonable care to eliminate these dangers should be held accountable. People who have questions about this issue should speak with a personal injury attorney in Connecticut.