A September 2016 story by ABC 7 Los Angeles explains that the parents of a 13-year-old who drown at a school swim party are pursuing a wrongful death suit. The suit stems from a school-sponsored affair within the Murrieta School District in California. Sabrina and Rodriguez Pierce allege that lifeguards on duty failed to notice their son drowning and further did not conduct CPR. Students assisted the child from the pool, from where he was transported to a hospital and died. Surveillance cameras showed that the child appeared to unintentionally float to the deeper end of the pool where he wasn't able to stand.
How Widespread Is the Problem?
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently released its report on drowning fatalities for this year. During the span between Memorial Day and Labor Dar this year there was a minimum of 205 child drownings in swimming pools and spas. Six states had a total of (10) or more such deaths including Texas, California, Florida, Arizona, Alabama and North Carolina.
How Colorado Laws Address the Issue
There a two aspects of tort law that relate to this topic which include premises liability and the attractive nuisance doctrine. Premises liability imposes a duty to homeowners that they maintain reasonable care to protect individuals on their property. This duty is based on the “status” of the visitor to the property, which is either as an invitee, licensee or trespasser. Trespassers are visitors on the owner's property without their consent; therefore, the landowner is not responsible for the care of these individuals unless harm occurs to them resultant of willfully or intentional action.
Attractive Nuisance Doctrine in Colorado
Within C.R.S.13-21-15 which explains landowner premises liability, there is a clear explanation that the laws in the section are not appropriate in situations where the doctrine of attractive nuisance applies. Further, it clarifies that children who have reached the age of fourteen are assumed to be competent for purposes associated with premises liability.
The attractive nuisance doctrine is designed to encourage homeowners to prevent trespassing on their property, particularly trespassers that under the age of fourteen. It makes a property owner liable for harm that results from a child being “attracted” to trespass on their property, as is often the case with swimming pools. The unsafe condition is typically not a naturally occurring condition. In addition to pools, examples may be amusements such as swings, trampolines or other such items that a child may not realize are dangerous. In summary, homeowners with conditions that would be unusual or enticing to children on their property should make efforts to restrict the ability for easy trespass.
The Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal has been assisting Colorado families in overcoming devastating occurrences for many years. The track record of success is evident by securing some of the largest verdicts and settlements on behalf of personal injury and wrongful death clients. Make the call to the office today for a complimentary consultation.