If something on someone else’s property sparks your interest, it is almost guaranteed to inspire the curiosity of a child. Unlike adults, however, young children are more likely to explore without regard to their safety.
An attractive nuisance is defined as anything so interesting or “attractive” that it would inspire a child to enter someone else’s property and put themselves in danger.
Some examples of attractive nuisances include:
- Swimming pools and hot tubs
- Dangerous animals
- Accessible rooftops
- Lawnmowers and other machinery
- Tool sheds
- Abandoned vehicles or appliances
- Construction sites
- Wells and tunnels
If a landowner has any of the above objects or conditions on their property, they have a responsibility to prevent injuries that could arise from it or keep children away from their property altogether.
Swimming Pools: A Case Study
Have you ever noticed that most people who have swimming pools have a wall or fence around their property, or at least a gated enclosure surrounding their pool? Many times, this is to avoid attractive nuisance claims against them.
If an individual installs a pool in their front yard and makes no effort to keep children from going swimming, they can be responsible for any child who drowns in that pool, even if the child wasn’t explicitly invited.
In attractive nuisance cases, the law acknowledges that installing the pool in the back yard or securing the area with a fence could have prevented the injury in question. As a result, liability is placed with the property owner – not the child who swam in the pool.
The Attractive Nuisance Doctrine
The attractive nuisance doctrine makes landowners liable for any injuries sustained by trespassing children, assuming the object or condition that injured them was likely to attract children in the first place. This doctrine also recognizes that children are unable to appreciate the risks posed by objects or conditions that interest them.
Case Study #2: Pets
Pets are another great example of attractive nuisances. If a child sees a horse, dog, or any other animal, they will want to pet it. They will not think about whether or not the animal is dangerous. When children can wander into a horse pasture or property, the landowner can be responsible for any injuries their animals cause.
How to Prevent Harm by an Attractive Nuisance
Unfortunately for parents, attractive nuisances are usually discovered after the injury has taken place. A parent may not have been aware their neighbor had a dangerous condition on their property until it is too late, but property owners should have been aware of the condition all along.
Unless you notice an attractive nuisance ahead of time, there’s no real way you can prevent these types of accidents. Even if you do alert a homeowner to a hazardous condition, it is still up to them to make it inaccessible to children.
Our team at the Law Office of James M. Stanley can help you get the resources you need to ensure your child’s recovery. We have been helping injured children and their families since 1976 and have a long track record of success.
Discuss your case with our seasoned professionals at (817) 591-4222 or during a free consultation at our Fort Worth office.