Children get into trouble. This is a universal law, as curious minds combined with lack of experience can lead young ones to go where they shouldn’t and do things they aren’t supposed to. Because of this, the law holds the doctrine of attractive nuisance. This legal doctrine is a form of premises liability, and states that the owner of a potentially dangerous property can be held accountable for any injuries to sustained by a trespassing child, if those injuries are caused by a hazardous objects or condition that might be likely to attract children.
Simply put, an attractive nuisance is a structure or condition of property that is both hazardous and hard for a child to resist. These structures or conditions must be man-made and include abandoned properties, such as vehicles, appliances, or buildings. Some common examples of attractive nuisances include swimming pools, abandoned houses, and constructions sites or equipment.
Though the specific standards to prove an attractive nuisance case vary from state to state, generally speaking a plaintiff must show:
- The landowner should have been reasonably aware that children are likely to trespass on his or her property.
- The landowner was aware or had reason to be aware that there existed on the property a risk of death or serious bodily harm to children.
- The children would not be able to understand or comprehend the risk presented by the dangerous condition.
- The benefit of maintaining the condition or the cost required to eliminate the condition is minor compared to the potential risk to children.
- The landowner failed to exercise reasonable care to maintain safe conditions on his or her property.
In many cases, putting up a sign to keep out or warning of potential dangers on the property is sufficient, but often a more proactive approach can be required. When determining an attractive nuisance case, the court will take into consideration the age and intellectual ability of the injured child.
In order to protect themselves from an attractive nuisance lawsuit, property owners should assess if a property is likely to pose a threat to children, determine if children are likely to trespass, and take steps to either eliminate any dangerous conditions or restricting access so that no children will be able to trespass on the property in the first place.
For specific laws and help with an attractive nuisance case, contact an experienced premises liability and property lawyer Decatur GA trusts.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into attractive nuisance.