Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

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ddurrett896
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Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by ddurrett896 » Mon Nov 16, 2015 12:57 pm

I built a treehouse for my kids in the backyard and naturally there friends are going to want to play in it.

Is there a sign I can post at the entrance of the treehouse that relinquishes their right to sue me if a child falls off and sustains injuries? Thanks!

livesoft
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by livesoft » Mon Nov 16, 2015 1:05 pm

That's funny because the kid won't sue you, but perhaps their parents will. :) But if you are worried why not call your insurance company about it. Lots of folks have play structures and trampolines in there backyards, so your query will not be unusual.
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soupcxan
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by soupcxan » Mon Nov 16, 2015 1:07 pm

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Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Mon Nov 16, 2015 1:08 pm

ddurrett896 wrote:I built a treehouse for my kids in the backyard and naturally there friends are going to want to play in it.

Is there a sign I can post at the entrance of the treehouse that relinquishes their right to sue me if a child falls off and sustains injuries? Thanks!
Amusing question, but no. You should have thought of that before you built the treehouse. Have you spoken to your home insurance company about this yet? You may want to up your liability policy limits, if they do permit this on your coverage. If coverage is excluded, you may want to reconsider having that on your property. An attorney can easily diffuse your "sign" as kids don't have the ability to make or understand decisions that are legally enforceable in a court of law. Even if an adult saw your sign and trespasses on your property, climbs the treehouse and falls - good luck trying to avoid a lawsuit.
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ResearchMed
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by ResearchMed » Mon Nov 16, 2015 1:09 pm

livesoft wrote:That's funny because the kid won't sue you, but perhaps their parents will. :) But if you are worried why not call your insurance company about it. Lots of folks have play structures and trampolines in there backyards, so your query will not be unusual.
Agree with livesoft.

Make sure that your insurer KNOWS about this, and it is included.

I'd probably ask them if it should be inspected (and if so, by whom) to make sure there isn't any obvious negligence wrt the construction and any reasonable safety features (like no platforms at high heights without a railing or such).

I would have loved a treehouse as a child. It should be good fun, but you are prudent to look into appropriate liability coverage.

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Naismith
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by Naismith » Mon Nov 16, 2015 1:11 pm

My kids brought waiver forms for my signature from neighbors who had a swimming pool or trampoline.

Yes, we live in litiginous times.

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cheese_breath
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by cheese_breath » Mon Nov 16, 2015 1:12 pm

Why does a tree need a house? Isn't it strong enough to live outside? :P
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Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Mon Nov 16, 2015 1:14 pm

Naismith wrote:My kids brought waiver forms for my signature from neighbors who had a swimming pool or trampoline.

Yes, we live in litiginous times.
Yeah, that's going to go over real well when the lawsuits start piling up........
Let's see - your son Johnny want's to attend a pool party at the neighbors house, you sign the waiver form and Johnny attends the party. During the party, someone gains access to the booze locker, before you know it everyone is drinking and having a swell time, but then, they decide to hop back into the pool and someone hits their head as they were jumping in or someone drowns. You know those "waivers"? they aren't going to be worth a hill of beans in a lawsuit defense, the booze cabinet is going to sink the neighbors and their insurance company.
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mcraepat9
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by mcraepat9 » Mon Nov 16, 2015 1:32 pm

I am a lawyer (but probably not in your state), but this is NOT intended to be legal advice. I have no legal expertise in this area. This is friendly nonlegal advice and I urge you to contact a lawyer in your state.

As you probably know, the common law of negligence and attractive nuisance varies from state to state. I highly doubt that a child can waive his or her rights to sue you in tort simply because you posted a sign. I would absolutely consult a lawyer in your jurisdiction and check whether your homeowners insurance covers liability risks like these. If you wanted to do some amateur legal sleuthing on the topic, I would look into the law in your state relating to homeowner liability relating to pools (which are the quintessential "attractive nuisance") and how such homeowners protect themselves from lawsuits like the ones you are concerned about. It probably isn't exactly analogous, but it should give you a good understanding of the situation.
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user5027
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by user5027 » Mon Nov 16, 2015 1:37 pm

livesoft wrote:That's funny because the kid won't sue you, but perhaps their parents will.
And it may not be because they want to. Their medical insurance company may be wanting to get into your homeowners insurance company's pocket.

adamthesmythe
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by adamthesmythe » Mon Nov 16, 2015 1:37 pm

I am not a lawyer but I suspect that even disclaimers of liability signed by the parents are not absolute protection from legal action.

You will want to talk to your insurance company. I recall that mine had a specific prohibition against trampolines. I don't know if they had given treehouses any thought.

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MikeWillRetire
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by MikeWillRetire » Mon Nov 16, 2015 2:04 pm

Kids, this is why you secretly build your own tree house out in the woods away from all adults.

tim1999
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by tim1999 » Mon Nov 16, 2015 5:33 pm

The way things are these days, if I had a tree house on my property, I would only let my own kids use it and no others.

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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by Call_Me_Op » Mon Nov 16, 2015 5:49 pm

ddurrett896 wrote:I built a treehouse for my kids in the backyard and naturally there friends are going to want to play in it.

Is there a sign I can post at the entrance of the treehouse that relinquishes their right to sue me if a child falls off and sustains injuries? Thanks!
I doubt it - not in a country where a burglar can sue you if he (or she) sliips on your stairs.
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by toofache32 » Wed Nov 18, 2015 12:13 am

mcraepat9 wrote:I am a lawyer (but probably not in your state), but this is NOT intended to be legal advice. I have no legal expertise in this area. This is friendly nonlegal advice and I urge you to contact a lawyer in your state.....
Am I the only one that finds it hilarious that an attorney feels the need to shield himself from other attorneys?? Lord of the Flies...
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jmagi76461
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by jmagi76461 » Wed Nov 18, 2015 8:03 am

+1 to Umbrella policy. Costs are reasonable for coverage over home and Autos. Peace of mind is definitely worth it!

Not reasonable to expect friends won't want to go in treehouse. It's there for fun...kids are kids and things happen. If it does, your Homeowners policy will cover and Umbrella will be excess.

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happymob
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by happymob » Wed Nov 18, 2015 8:14 am

jmagi76461 wrote:+1 to Umbrella policy. Costs are reasonable for coverage over home and Autos. Peace of mind is definitely worth it!

Not reasonable to expect friends won't want to go in treehouse. It's there for fun...kids are kids and things happen. If it does, your Homeowners policy will cover and Umbrella will be excess.
But, again, make sure treehouses aren't excluded from the umbrella policy. Umbrella policies have deliberate holes in the coverage that are sometimes hard to find out pre-purchase from the insurance agent.

autonomy
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by autonomy » Wed Nov 18, 2015 9:19 am

Cherokee8215 wrote:The way things are these days, if I had a tree house on my property, I would only let my own kids use it and no others.
The way things are these days, I don't allow anyone onto my property!

/only half-joking

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cheese_breath
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by cheese_breath » Wed Nov 18, 2015 9:39 am

autonomy wrote: The way things are these days, I don't allow anyone onto my property!

/only half-joking
Funny you should bring that up. We have small children on both sides of us, and they're always running back and forth through our back yard to get to each other's houses. I never gave it a thought until the fathers on both sides asked me if it would be OK. Of course I said yes.
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michaelsieg
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by michaelsieg » Wed Nov 18, 2015 11:08 pm

You could consider getting an umbrella policy, just in case the homeowners won't pay if something happens. Your homeowner's premium might go up if you call and tell them about your treehouse, so an umbrella policy might be cheaper. Our umbrella policy has very broad coverage.

randomguy
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by randomguy » Thu Nov 19, 2015 12:07 am

Call_Me_Op wrote:
ddurrett896 wrote:I built a treehouse for my kids in the backyard and naturally there friends are going to want to play in it.

Is there a sign I can post at the entrance of the treehouse that relinquishes their right to sue me if a child falls off and sustains injuries? Thanks!
I doubt it - not in a country where a burglar can sue you if he (or she) sliips on your stairs.
You can sue over anything. The question is always about winning. Pretty much all of the crazy sounding lawsuits that are real and give settlements have some mitigating factors (which you may or may not agree with). For example the famous case of a kid ("burgalar) falling through a skylight at his school had the factor that the skylights had been painted black AND the school had been warned that was dangerous after someone else had fallen through.

You can live a super paranoid life worrying about a .01% event. Or you can get the right umbrella insurance and get on with your life.

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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by Dulocracy » Thu Nov 19, 2015 10:05 am

I also believe that you should have umbrella insurance. Also, having a fence around the treehouse could greatly limit liability, as you are keeping out children that might pop by and play on it without permission. This is when accidents are more likely to occur than when you are supervising what is going on. It does not kill the liability, but it greatly reduces it to be more under your control.
I'm not a financial professional. Post is info only & not legal advice. No attorney-client relationship exists with reader. Scrutinize my ideas as if you spoke with a guy at a bar. I may be wrong.

heyyou
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by heyyou » Thu Nov 19, 2015 12:25 pm

And it may not be because they want to. Their medical insurance company may be wanting to get into your homeowners insurance company's pocket
.

That is it. By having insurance, you have given the right to them to sue others for the cost of your claims.

Six months after each of my wife's occasional back operations, we receive a letter from a legal firm representing the medical insurance provider, and they are fishing for someone to sue in order to recover the costs of her medical claims.

user5027
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by user5027 » Thu Nov 19, 2015 1:36 pm

My wife was the administrator for a co-operative nursery school. It is a real community gem. All the local families clamored to enroll their 3-5 year olds. Registrations looked like they were selling concert tickets with people sleeping in parked cars queued at the door overnight. Parents were required to serve on committees and help at the school in some fashion and took great pride in doing so.

One of the students was injured on the playground see saw. I believe a broken bone was involved. The parents were forced to sue the school by their medical insurance company.

Beth*
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by Beth* » Thu Nov 19, 2015 7:08 pm

heyyou wrote:
And it may not be because they want to. Their medical insurance company may be wanting to get into your homeowners insurance company's pocket
.

That is it. By having insurance, you have given the right to them to sue others for the cost of your claims.

Six months after each of my wife's occasional back operations, we receive a letter from a legal firm representing the medical insurance provider, and they are fishing for someone to sue in order to recover the costs of her medical claims.
Several years ago I fell down a stair in a public place and broke a rib. My health insurance company made me give them all sorts of information to see if they could sue the place where I fell and get back what they paid for my emergency room visit and x-ray. They also did this when I ended up in the emergency room with an allergic reaction. I don't think my insurance company ended up suing in either of these cases but if they had there is nothing I could have done to prevent it.

TRC
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by TRC » Thu Nov 19, 2015 10:35 pm

Boy have times changed....

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celia
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by celia » Thu Nov 19, 2015 10:51 pm

Here's an article on other "attractive nuisances" a homeowner may have.
http://www.insurancequotes.org/home/10- ... nce-rates/
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pshonore
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by pshonore » Thu Nov 19, 2015 10:58 pm

Beth* wrote:
heyyou wrote:
And it may not be because they want to. Their medical insurance company may be wanting to get into your homeowners insurance company's pocket
.

That is it. By having insurance, you have given the right to them to sue others for the cost of your claims.

Six months after each of my wife's occasional back operations, we receive a letter from a legal firm representing the medical insurance provider, and they are fishing for someone to sue in order to recover the costs of her medical claims.
Several years ago I fell down a stair in a public place and broke a rib. My health insurance company made me give them all sorts of information to see if they could sue the place where I fell and get back what they paid for my emergency room visit and x-ray. They also did this when I ended up in the emergency room with an allergic reaction. I don't think my insurance company ended up suing in either of these cases but if they had there is nothing I could have done to prevent it.
A lot of health insurance companies also want to know if by chance the accident happened in a work environment so they can get Workers Comp involved to pay the bills.

stan1
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by stan1 » Thu Nov 19, 2015 11:12 pm

Send your kids to play in tree houses and pools on someone else's property. Drop off some food and drinks so the parents don't feel too inconvenienced. Call your lawyer if your kid gets injured instead of the other way around.

tim1999
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by tim1999 » Fri Nov 20, 2015 12:07 pm

Another interesting angle on this, in a local municipality a couple of years ago a guy built a treehouse in his yard for his kids to enjoy. As he was a carpenter/contractor by trade, it was well built and good looking. The zoning code enforcement officer noticed it and issued a violation letter. Apparently their ordinances don't allow tree houses. The guy had to tear it down.

SouthernCPA
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Re: Treehouse in Backyard - Liability Question

Post by SouthernCPA » Fri Nov 20, 2015 1:31 pm

MikeWillRetire wrote:Kids, this is why you secretly build your own tree house out in the woods away from all adults.
Funny you mention that. We (the group of boys I grew up with) had secret forts (tree houses) in the woods all over the place. One even hung over the bayou marsh.

It's a sad day when something like a treehouse can't be enjoyed by kids because of the fear of litigation.

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