Attractive Nuisances: When Children Trespass
Anyone who has children or spends time with children knows how curious they are, and how difficult it can be to prevent them from investigating things that are dangerous. Something like a pond or a swimming pool will likely fascinate many children, and draw them near, without the children even contemplating the fact that they do not know how to swim. This reality is the reason behind the law of attractive nuisance. Our laws recognize the fact that children explore, and might not always respect property boundaries, or the hazards that certain things might present. This is why children are not treated the same way as adult trespassers are under the law.
What are some examples of attractive nuisances?
Attractive nuisances are things on a person's property that a child might see and be drawn to, and that could cause a child to be injured as a result. The obvious examples would include swimming pools and trampolines, but other possibilities could be tree houses, zip lines, hot tubs, wells, or koi ponds. Anything that a child would be likely to see and want to explore could potentially be considered an attractive nuisance.
Who counts as a child under attractive nuisances?
The age at which someone is protected under the doctrine of attractive nuisance will vary depending on the laws of the state where the injury occurred or of the court handling the case. However, it is important to note that the law is not usually limited to young children, and often applies to teenagers as well.
Is the landowner always liable if a child is injured while investigating an attractive nuisance?
If a child enters a person's property because of an attractive nuisance, and suffers an injury, the landowner is not always liable. Specifically, the landowner's liability depends specifically on the efforts that he or she made in order to prevent children from being injured or from entering the property.
If the landowner was violating a local law or regulation by failing to have basic protections in or around their property, then they will be more likely to be held liable if an injury occurred. An example of this would be if the local law stated that pools had to be surrounded by a fence, and the owner did not have a fence. In this situation, there would be a greater chance that the owner would be held liable in the event of an injury.
Even if the owner did not violate a law or regulation, if they clearly failed to take any steps to prevent someone from entering their property, and had something on the property that was likely to cause a child to enter that property, then they are likely to be liable. On the other hand, if they had a high fence installed with a gate that was kept locked, or had clearly made other efforts to prevent people from entering the property, and the child climbed the fence, it might be difficult to claim that the homeowner should be held liable for any injuries that occurred.
Do I need an attorney?
If you or a loved one suffered from an injury on someone else's property, you should contact an attorney to discuss your claim and what your options for recovery might be.
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