Articles Posted in Attractive Nuisances

Water-Safety-150x150Florida is a state that allows for swimming virtually year round.  There are swimming pools in just about every neighborhood from small backyard pools to community swimming pools.  While swimming is a great activity for children, it also poses a real risk for children, especially toddlers and smaller children who lack strong swimming, survival skills, and judgment.  Certainly, a child is at risk when there is no adult supervision in the area of the water way / swimming pool.  Even when adults are present, there are also risks to children if their the “supervision” is distracted by conversation, mobile phone use, a television, or just simple inattention.  When a child dies or is seriously injured from a drowning incident, there is a ripple effect through the family and the community.

A recent event that occurred in Jacksonville, Florida exemplifies this. According to a news report, a toddler  drowned in a backyard pool when family members briefly lost track of him. Events like these occur all too frequently. According to the Center for Disease Control, an average of over 700 children under age fourteen die annually from drowning. The Center for Disease Control also indicates that, for every child that dies from drowning, five others go to the hospital for almost drowning. Unfortunately, Florida leads the nation in number of child deaths from drowning in 2017, as revealed by the Miami Herald. Thus, staying vigilant with children around water is especially pertinent in Florida.  See Water Injuries – Fact Sheet- Center for Disease Control. 

Most drowning and near drowning incidents are completely preventable.  Water safety / swimming precautions can include: installation of fencing around water, designation of an adult to provide constant supervision of children in water or around water, pool alarm systems for doors leading out to water access, adornment of lifejackets when children play near or in the water, and swim lessons at a young age. CPR training may also save a child’s life in the event that a child drowns.

A death that shook a family, neighborhood, and community is still under investigation according to a recent news report. Amari Harley, age 3, died on October 22 after getting stuck in a city septic tank system at a City of Jacksonville (Duval County) park.  The death certificate listed “accidental drowning” as the cause of death.  This means, that following the autopsy, it was determined that the drowning was the cause of the death rather than some other cause like a stroke, heart attack, or some kind of unknown or previously undiagnosed congenital medical condition.  While the cause of death has been established, the preventability and safety measures surrounding this incident are still under investigation.
This raises the question as to whether the City of Jacksonville should be held liable for the death of this child.  In other words, is the City of Jacksonville legally liable for this “accidental drowning”?  When evaluating a legal case involving a personal injury, research is often conducted by an attorney in form of a review of allocable laws, statutes, ordinances, and case law.  It is important that there is legal precedence or authority to pursue a case or claim on behalf of the injured child and the family.  There are essentially four elements associated with a negligence case or claim as follows:
1 – Duty;

Scales-of-Justice-Yellow-and-Blue-150x150In the State of Florida, a property owner or landowner whether a private person, business, or government entity has a duty to maintain the premises under the property owner’s control in a reasonably safe manner. The is especially important for areas in which children are present.  It is well known that children, especially toddlers, are curious and will often wander into areas that are not built for the play or presence of children. For instance, it is important for property owners and landowners to fence off hazardous areas including those related to waterways, electrical equipment, steep areas, and any other areas in which a child may get stuck, trapped, or otherwise injured.
Septic or lift stations for restroom sewage can be commonly be seen in many Florida communities.  It is vital that the lids to septic or lift stations are safely secured and in place.  If there is any risk that a young child can remove the lid or slip through the lid into the hole into the ground or the septic area, a child can be at significant risk for drowning.  There are a number of causes for covers to be damages, unsecured, and out of place.  When this happens, it is important for a property owner to take swift action to seal off the area, and repair or replace the lid.
Attractive Nuisance is a legal concept in which applies to situation in which a child is lawfully on property or even trespassing on the premises. If the child is injured by an area or object that is likely to attract children, a property owner or landowner can be held liable if it can be shown that the property owner or landowner knew or should have known about the attractive nuisance but failed to take action to fix the problem, secure the dangerous area, or remove the danger area / problem from the premises.

Resort Florida Liability and NegligenceIn Florida and other states, children are welcomed as guests at hotels, motels, and resorts. There are a few vacation areas that are adult guests only; however, the vast majority of these locations are family oriented and set up in many ways to provide for the guests who are children.  Rooms and areas of the resort are constructed and designed just for children.   Because children are welcomed as guests, the hotel / resort staff and management should maintain the facility and activities at the facility in a way to takes into account the safety of children.  It is well know that children lack good safety awareness and judgment.  Because of this, attractive nuisances should be kept at a minimum or at least secured in a way that a child cannot go inside a dangerous area without proper access and adult supervision. Take for example, a swimming pool or aquatics area.   Proper fencing, enclosures, and alarms should be in place so that a child, especially toddlers, do not have access to or wander into the area.  Like other personal injury cases, the following elements must be established:
1. Duty;
2. Breach of Duty;

Alligator Warning.001
By David Wolf, Child Injury Lawyer
The State of Florida is a tourist destination for millions of visitors every year. In Florida, we have beaches, resorts, theme parks, water parks, lakes, rivers, ponds, lagoons, and a number of alligators.  Certainly, personal injuries caused by an automobile accident are far more common than personal injuries caused by an alligator attack.  As such, there are literally thousands of appellate cases and rulings associated with personal injuries and automobile accidents.  On the other hand, the laws and appellate cases associated with alligator attacks are quite sparse.  A recent incident at Walt Disney World Orlando made national headline news.  Unfortunately, it focused media attention in the State of Florida and Orlando for a tragedy rather than any kind of celebration.  More importantly and more tragically, a Nebraska family, who innocently was just trying to enjoy the “Magic” of Walt Disney World Orlando, will be heading home with one less family member who was attacked and dragged away by an alligator at the Seven Seas Lagoon.
In Palumbo v. State Game & Fresh Water Fish Commission, 487 So.2d 352 (Fla. 1st D.C.A. 1986), a personal injury victim (Christopher Palumbo) sought the review of a trial court order granting summary judgment for the defendant – the State of Florida. In other words, the trial court threw out the personal injury victim’s case.  The trial court ruled that the evidence, when considered in the light most favorable to the injury victim, was insufficient to support a claim or case for negligence against the State of Florida.  Mr. Palumbo was injured at the University of Florida – Lake Wauberg Recreational Park. He noticed that a boat had capsized.  Mr Palumbo decided to swim out to the boat to help the boaters with a repair.  As he was swimming towards the boat, Mr. Palumbo was attacked by an alligator and he was injured.   Mr. Palumbo later filed a lawsuit against the State of Florida Game and Fresh Water Commission.  The trial court threw out the case and determined that the State of Florida was not required to fence and was not required to otherwise keep alligators out of the area.  The trial court further noted that Mr. Palumbo disregarded warning signs that were posted at the recreational park / facility.  The First District Court of Appeal affirmed the rulings of the trial court.  The First District Court of Appeal noted that the State of Florida did not have a duty to guard the visitor against harm from an alligator unless the alligator was reduced to the possession of the State of Florida or the alligator was not indigenous to the locality.  The First District Court of Appeal further noted that Mr. Palumbo ignored clear warning signs at the facility which, in turn, was the sole proximate cause of his personal injuries.  In addition to “No Swimming” signs posted at the recreational park, there were a variety of signs warning of and referencing the presence of alligators in the area including one sign that read “Unlawful to Feed Alligators” and another sign that read “Don’t Feed or Molest . . . “ with a large graphic of an alligator on it.  In the Palumbo case, there were clear warning signs of alligators in the area which appeared to be an important part of the rulings of the trial court and the appellate court.

106-1113tm-vector2-2936Trampolines can provide hours of enjoyment and exercise to children.  Unfortunate, a trampoline can also be the site or location of a serious personal injury to a child.   There are three major reasons why children are injured while playing on a trampoline:
1.  Improper Maintenance / Repair of the Trampoline.
There are far too many homeowners, summer camps, schools, and day care centers with trampolines that are older and / or without proper safety measures and equipment.   Many trampolines lack side netting and barriers.  Alternatively, the side netting or barrier is in place but in disrepair.  There are also trampolines in use and available for play with issues with the legs or footing of the trampoline.  Some have missing springs and holes in certain areas.   When a trampoline is not properly maintained, children can be harmed even during simple light use.

NO%20DIVING.jpgDrowning-related deaths and other water-related injuries are on the rise during this summer time. Unfortunately, the State of Florida sees its fair share of drowning related deaths and injuries. Some result from the negligence of others including improper supervision and inadequate fencing and barriers. The American Academy of Pediatrics reported that the leading cause of injury-related death in children is drowning. Each year, more than 1,400 children, under the age of 20, drown. Also, it is estimated that for every drowning at least 1-in-4 children suffer a non-fatal injury requiring hospitalization. Non-fatal drowning-related injuries can cause brain damage, long-term disabilities, memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of brain function.

The two most important preventative measures a parent or caregiver can take is to maintain constant supervision and learn to swim. Parents and caregivers should never, not even for a brief moment, leave a child alone or with another young child in a bathtub, pool, hot tub, spa, kiddie / children pools, near irrigation ditches, ponds, lacks, rivers, creeks, oceans or other open standing water.

An article by provided other safety measures a parent or caregiver can take to prevent drowning or other water-related injuries:

apartment%20balcony.jpgA 4-year-old boy fell from his 17th-floor balcony in Miami. Miraculously, the child survived with no apparent broken bones. According to authorities and witnesses, the boy was probably saved by a palm tree. After falling from the balcony, the child likely bounced off of the crown of the palm tree and safely landed onto a dirt surface on the 10th floor; about a 70-80 ft. fall. The boy fell off the balcony in pursuit of a balloon after he opened the apartment’s sliding glass door. While the child’s 23-year-old mother was in the bathroom, she left the child under supervision of his grandfather, who was in kitchen during the accident.

It is imperative that parents and adult supervisors keep a watchful eye over their children. Children do not appreciate the dangers of their surroundings and it is an adult’s duty to keep them from physical harm. Adults can protect children from wandering off and injury by providing supervision, keeping doors and windows locked, and child-proofing the house.

When a child is injured as a result of a fall, legal issues also present themselves. What safety precautions were in place? What safety precautions should have been in place? Was the building or facility properly maintained? Was the incident foreseeable or preventable? Were there any building code violations or other laws violated with respect to the building or the facility? If you believe that your child was injured a result of the neglect or negligent conduct of others, contact a Florida child injury lawyer for advise and consultation regarding the applicable laws and the proper handling of an insurance claim or lawsuit as applicable and warranted by the facts of the situation.

Lab.jpgRyan Gooding, of Palm Springs, Florida and friend saw a science experiment on that looked interesting to them, and decided to try to do the experiment on their own. The experiment was creating a rocket out of a plastic soda bottle using vinegar and baking soda.

But when Ryan and his friend were ready to launch the rocket, the bottle accidentally exploded in Ryan’s face, causing chemical burns, lacerations, a broken nose and temporary blindness in one eye. Ryan was hospitalized. Unfortunately, the family’s health insurance policy lapsed two days before the accident took place, and now his mother is trying to figure out how to pay the hospital bills for her son’s care.

Experiments and entertainment on TV and the Internet often look very tempting to young kids, who do not have a fully-developed sense of caution when it comes to dangerous activities. Parents need to help their children understand that mimicking stunts and experiments performed by professionals is dangerous and could get them hurt. The news story did not point out the link to the video Ryan was watching, but one can only hope that it had an appropriate warning for children not to try the experiment at home without supervision.


Professional “mommy blogger” and stay at home mom, Shellie Ross of Merritt Island, Florida, surprised her 5,000 Twitter followers recently by Tweeting all the details of the drowning death of her two year old son Bryson. The child reportedly wandered off from his eleven year old brother and fell into the family’s pool. A few minutes before the child wandered off, Ms. Ross was tweeting about the weather, then suddenly started asking followers for their prayers as she rushed with the child to the emergency room.

The online community was shocked by Ms. Ross’ announcement and the fact that she continued to Tweet about what was going on as she waited for news of her son’s fate in the emergency waiting room. Family members and the Brevard County, Florida Sheriff’s Office do not agree; they say that they believe tweeting had nothing to do with this tragic accident. Ms. Ross has locked her account and has not sent any more tweets since immediately after Bryson’s death. You can read more about this tragic drowning death and the online community’s reaction to it at Tweet sorrow.

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