Property owners have an inherent duty to protect all persons lawfully on the property from unreasonable risk of harm. When it comes to children, that standard is somewhat heightened in that youths are not presumed to have the knowledge or maturity to protect themselves from obvious harm or danger.
The recent case of Ruiz v. Victory Props., LLC details a case where reportedly dangerous conditions in the back yard of an apartment complex indirectly led to serious head injuries sustained by a 7-year-old girl who lived there.
Trial court granted summary judgment to defendant, finding the girl’s injuries were not a foreseeable risk of the dangerous conditions that existed. The court noted that to decide otherwise might have the unintended consequence of making land owners reticent to rent property to families with children. The appellate court, though, later backed by the Connecticut Supreme Court, reversed, finding ample evidence the land owner had a basic duty to keep the site clear of hazards that might be dangerous to children, and further that a reasonable argument could be made that this breach of duty resulted in the girl’s injuries.