In many instances, property owners have a legal responsibility to ensure that visitors on their property are safe from injury on their premises. While this legal responsibility does not extend to trespassers in most cases, there is one instance where an owner may be liable for injuries to trespassers: When their property contains an “attractive nuisance.”
“Attractive nuisances” are parts of the property or items on the property that may be enticing and dangerous to young children, adolescents, and teenagers. The law recognizes that younger individuals do not always understand the risks posed by a serious property hazard – and that they may not grasp the laws around trespassing, either. That means if your child was injured because of a property owner’s negligence, you may have ground to hold them accountable for the damages your child suffered as a result.
What Is Considered to Be an Attractive Nuisance?
Many different features of a property can be considered an attractive nuisance.
Here are some of the most common attractive nuisances:
- Swimming pools and hot tubs
- Dogs and dangerous animals
- Wells and caverns
- Tunnels and secret passageways
- Lawnmowers and other heavy machinery
- Swing sets
- Ropes hanging from a tree
Of course, if a property owner has exercised due diligence in preventing access to an attractive nuisance or creating effective barriers, they may not be held responsible for a child’s injuries. Unfortunately, many property owners do not consider the risks to neighboring children and teenagers, and may not adequately maintain or protect their property as a result.
Who Faces the Greatest Risk from Attractive Nuisances?
Children are still developing into capable, rational human beings, and so they are vulnerable to poor decision-making processes. This is true even for teenagers, who may understand the basic principles of the law but have a difficult time applying them when faced with peer pressure. This is why the court will always take the child’s age into consideration when weighing a premises liability claim.
The Components of an Attractive Nuisance Claim
In any premises liability claim, you must be able to show that the property owner had a chance to maintain a safety hazard and keep other people safe. Under the attractive nuisance doctrine, this can also include making the nuisance seem less enticing and visible to minors. There must also be actual damages involved: If your child did not suffer injuries, it’s unlikely that you will have a claim.
Here are the three main components when proving an attractive nuisance claim:
- That the child did not understand the inherent safety risks of the attractive nuisance.
- That the landowner should have known that children could be enticed onto their property.
- That the landowner did not take adequate steps to protect children and is therefore liable for injury.
If you have an attractive nuisance claim, just contact our expert premises liability attorneys at Simeone & Miller, LLP for a free consultation.