Gun ownership is protected by the Second Amendment. Certainly, there is a strong history and constitutional right to gun ownership in Florida and the United States. With this right, there are also the responsibility of sensible and reasonable ownership and safety especially when children are present in a home or a location where guns are owned, maintained, and stored. A homeowner / gun owner can be held liable for leaving a gun in a place or location that is accessible to a young child. It is well known that children especially toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary school children are curious and do not always recognize the danger of touching or handling a gun. Civil or legal responsibility for injuries or the death of a young child does not in any way abrogate or curtail gun ownership or rights. Like driving an automobile or running an amusement park right, there must be responsible maintenance and operation surrounding the potentially dangerous activity.
An Arkansas woman was recently charged after her six year old nephew shot and killed himself with a gun she owned. The young boy was waiting in a car while the woman was in a nearby residence. The accidental death lead to the woman being charged with manslaughter. She was charged criminally because she was alleged to be negligent or careless for keeping the gun in a place accessible to the young boy. With such a tragic event, this particular incident and others are wake up calls for all gun owners and homeowners to be responsible any time that guns and children are present in the same location.
Gun related injuries can happen to a child of any age. In fact, toddlers, aged two or three, are strong enough to pull the trigger of a loaded gun. Often, these toddlers are too young to understand what a gun is and the danger that it poses. Coupled with the fact that one in three children live in a home with a gun, this is all the more reason to practice proper gun safety.
At schools, day care centers, and summer camps, there may be a risks to children that may not be well identified by the administrators, owners, and employees. The Consumer Products Safety Commission reports that over 260 children have died since 2000 due to furniture including but not limited to bookshelfs, dressers, and televisions tipping over on the children. Another alarming statistics include the report that over 11,000 children suffered personal injuries from tip over related incidents during this time period as well. The truth is that these injuries are quite foreseeable and preventable.
Halloween is a great time for children to dress up and have fun. Since the holiday is typically celebrated at night and involves children roaming the neighborhood, parents should plan out the night and make sure that the children are properly supervised and safe during their Halloween activities including the traditional “Trick or Treat” visits to neighborhood homes.
Costume Selection. Ideally, costumes should be a bright color so that the child can be easily seen by drivers in the area. Many costumes are mostly black like those for vampires, witches, and other characters. Parents should add color, reflective strips, and glow sticks to the attire as needed to make sure that the child is visible during his or her trick or treat activities. Costumes should also be proper fitting so that the child does not trip while walking or running. In addition, mask and other items covering the face should be positioned and sized so that the child has sufficient vision or view to get around on Halloween.
Shoes. While heels and stilts may help complete a costume, parents should take efforts to make sure that the child wears comfortable shoes like sneakers. Many injuries take place on Halloween when a child trips and falls. Proper footwear can help prevent many of these incidents from taking place.
Unfortunately, children are frequently injured while under the care and supervision of another person. In some instances, the injuries take place at the home of a neighbor, friend, or even family member. Is a homeowner liable for all child injuries that take place in or near the home? The simple answer is “No”. The homeowner is not liable for every incident and every injury that takes place in a home. Like any other case there are typically four factors to consider to determine if a homeowner is liable for injuries sustained by a child:
1. Duty. Generally, a homeowner has a duty to provide a reasonably safe environment for guests and visitors to the home including children. This includes the inside of the home as well as the yard and playground to the home. Furthermore, a homeowner has a duty to reasonably supervise children while at the home as well. The level and extent of the supervision will depend on the age of the children as well as the abilities and or special needs of the children.
2. Breach of Duty. When considering the issue or element of breach of duty, each case must be evaluated on its own facts and circumstances determine if the homeowner breached the duty. It all has to do with the reasonableness of the homeowner’s actions and if it was feasonable and practical to act differently.
What are the legal rights of a child who is injured at the home of a neighbor, friend, or family member in the State of Florida? In Florida, children unfortunately suffer serious personal injuries when visiting the home of a relative, friend, neighbor, or other person. When injuries are suffered, questions often arise including the following: Is the homeowner legally responsible for the injury sustained by the child? Like many questions, the answer depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. Often times, there is no bright line between an injury that warrants a claim or case as opposed to one that does not. Because of the complexities of these cases, it is often helpful to have advice and legal representation from a Florida Child Injury Lawyer.
Many factors may be considered in determining the viability of the legal claim or case against the homeowner. These factors can include the age of the child, the number of children present, the activity engaged in by the child, the risk and dangers of the activity, adult supervision, and the preventability of injury. The book titled The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has challenged on Homeowner’s Insurance, Injuries at Home, Damages, Compensation, Medical Treatment, Medical Bills, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.
When a child is injured at the home of a relative, neighbor, friend or another person, the decision as to whether not to pursue a claim is a dependent factors beyond factual and legal ones. Often times the injuries take place at the home of the good friend or relative. Pursuing a case or claim against a good friend or relative can be quite stressful. While there is no legal protection or immunity afforded to a friend and most relatives, it is certainly understandable if a person decides not to pursue a particular injury case for concern or fear that it might affect the relationship. Of course, these concerns and issues must be weighed against the needs of the child, the extent of the homeowner’s negligence, the availability of insurance for medical bills, and the fairness of compensation for such injuries. All factors should be considered when a parent is evaluating or accessing a personal injury claim to be pursued on behalf of the child. Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A. has been representing injured children and their families since 1957. Cases handled by the law firm have included day care centers, schools, homeowners, and businesses.