I’m thinking of building a playset in my backyard for my children. I can’t fence it off to keep the neighborhood kids out while we’re not home. Am I legally liable if a child is injured or hurt on the playset while I’m not home?
A: You are likely only liable if you failed to construct and maintain the playset in a reasonably safe condition. Make sure you follow the instructions carefully, that no screws or nails are loose or exposed and that no other dangerous conditions exist, hidden or not.
A good idea is to install a shock-absorbing pad under the playset. They reduce the risk of injury and demonstrate you took measures to ensure the safety of the playset.
If the playset is in reasonably safe condition with no hidden dangers, you do not need to worry about unsupervised kids hurting themselves. Even in Florida, where we have the “attractive nuisance doctrine,” you are not legally liable unless you knew or should have known that the playset presented an unreasonable risk of death or serious bodily harm to the trespassing children.
You will want to consult your homeowner’s insurance policy if any child is injured on your playset because your policy may cover some of the child’s medical bills under the medical payments portion of the policy.
On the other hand, if you were considering installing a swimming pool, you may be required to conform to city codes and ordinances. Check your local laws before making any decisions. Also, watch this child injury lawyer video on preventing child drownings.