Earlier this month, a federal appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury lawsuit illustrating an issue that may have an impact on some Indiana premises liability cases involving children who have been injured while in the company of their parents. The case presented the court with an opportunity to discuss how a parent’s presence can act to reduce the duty a business owner has to protect minor children who accompany their parents.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was a young boy who was seriously injured while he was playing on the metal poles used to create the line at a nationwide coffee chain. According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the boy was with his family, which included both his parents and his brother. After the family ordered their food and drinks, they used the restroom and then began to leave the store.
On the way out of the store, the parents were in the lead with the children in tow. However, as the parents were about to leave the store, they heard their son screaming. They turned around to find that one of the metal poles used to connect a series of chains that were used to create a line leading up to the register had fallen on their son.
The young boy was taken to the hospital, but doctors were unable to save the boy’s finger, which later had to be amputated. The boy, through his parents, filed a premises liability lawsuit seeking compensation for his injuries.
The coffee shop argued that any duty it owed to the young boy was mitigated by the fact that the boy’s parents were present with him in the store, and they had the obligation to keep an eye on their son and ensure that he was not putting himself at risk. The court agreed, holding that the boy’s parents should have appreciated the obvious risk that the metal poles posed and taken any necessary action to protect their children. The fact that the coffee shop did not warn patrons about the dangers of the poles was of no consequence to the court because any dangers posed by the poles were clear.
Importantly, the court noted that the jurisdiction where this accident occurred did not apply the attractive nuisance doctrine, which can impose liability when a defendant landowner knows there is a hazard on his property that may attract young and curious minds. Had this case arisen in Indiana, where the attractive nuisance doctrine is in effect, the result of the case may have been different.
Have You Been Injured on Another Party’s Property?
If you or your child has recently been injured while on the property of another person, business, or government entity, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Indiana premises liability lawsuit. The dedicated personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse have extensive experience representing the parents of young accident victims. We understand how emotional it can be to deal with a child’s injury, and we take every precaution to ensure that our young clients are provided with the necessary comfort and care they need and deserve. Call 888-532-7766 to schedule a free consultation today.
Handyman’s Case Against Homeowner Dismissed Based on His Awareness of the Hazard That Caused His Injury, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, March 5, 2018
Court Affirms Dismissal of Premises Liability Case, Finding Hazard Was “Open and Obvious”, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, March 19, 2018