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Premise Liability When No One Is Home

Across the United States, thousands of foreclosed homes sit abandoned, gathering dust while the former inhabitants look for a fresh start. For the families living next door to some of these houses, especially families with small children, the abandoned homes present a sometimes unclear but ever present danger.

When accidents happen, the question of premise liability inevitably comes up, but who's there to answer it?

That was the case in Florida last year, when a two-year-old wandered into the backyard of an abandoned home while his parents were moving in next door. Tragically, the child drowned in the murky water of an unattended pool.

It wasn't the first time something like this had happened. In 2008, a five-year-old girl drowned in the pool behind an abandoned home in Indiana. Across the country, there are hundreds of tragedies like this waiting to happen.

Who is responsible for preventing these accidents?

In most cases, the families who have abandoned these homes are no longer in the state. Often, the house's title is ensnared within snarls of paperwork and confusion. In the former case, it took several months before the family found the person legally responsible for the house.

For parents moving into a neighborhood that has one or more abandoned homes, it is important to keep an eye on children. It may even be worthwhile to take a look around, so at least you'll be aware of any potential dangers.

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