Unmasking the Attractive Nuisance: An Essential Guide for Homeowners

A neighbor’s child has been injured on your property, and now they want you to pay for it. Unfortunately, this is widespread, especially with items like trampolines or pools being everyday things to own. We will discuss everything you need to know regarding this aspect of personal injury law.

What is an attractive nuisance?

When something on your property can be enticing or attractive to children, and that may harm the child, you may be dealing with an attractive nuisance.

The Law of Attractive Nuisances

For this doctrine to apply, there must be something on your property that can cause harm that a child cannot appreciate. For example, on a trampoline that is not being watched, a child could sneak onto your property and try to bounce for a moment but accidentally fall off and break an arm. Since the child was enticed to come onto your property because of the trampoline, you are potentially liable for the child’s medical bills.

If the worst comes to pass and a child accidentally drowns in your swimming pool when you are not paying attention, you could be liable for a great deal of monetary damages.

How to Avoid Liability

Child with broken armThe first piece of advice is always to watch the child or ensure an adult supervises the children if they are using your property. Realistically, if the children were supervised, this would not be an issue, as they would either be removed from the property or the supervising adult would be the one liable.

Unfortunately, this is not always realistic as you likely have work or responsibilities that take you away from your home, and the children might sneak away from the watchful eyes of their parents.

Since always being present on your property is unrealistic, how can you avoid liability for these damages? The answer: make the item not attractive.

Ensure everyone on the property knows that the item is dangerous and they need supervision to be there. If the children on your street all know that you have a trampoline, make sure they, or at least their parent(s), see that it is hazardous and that you must be home if they are even close to it.

If you have a pool, try to hide it. Install a fence around it, and plant trees or large bushes that block it from view.

Try to make it so that children cannot see anything attractive. If this is not feasible, consider installing lights around a pool or even having emergency rescue equipment on hand, a life jacket, or a life preserver, in case a child falls in.

Maybe even an alarm system if you can afford it.

All of these can help you avoid or mitigate liability for damage that occurred on your property without your knowledge.

This area of the law differs significantly from the injured person and tends to be more critical of the person who owned the property. The best tip is to be cautious at all times. Think about how someone could get hurt and then take steps to prevent this.

Having a child get hurt on your property is already bad enough, but if you could have prevented it from happening, you should prepare for many medical bills.

But the Children Are on My Property Illegally

This, unfortunately, does not matter to the law for this doctrine. Suppose someone is trespassing on your property, and they get injured. In that case, you are likely liable for their damages because they did not know they could experience any physical harm while on your property.

Under the law, you owe a duty to everyone on your property, allowed or trespassing, to ensure they do not get harmed. You must ensure that anyone on your property is aware of any potential dangers.

It would help if you made reasonable efforts to prevent any harm from occurring. At the very least, a “no trespassing” sign might keep some away from your property, but they are not usually enough to waive your liability for any damages.

Further, if a child on your property is injured, you are looked at with even more scrutiny than an adult. In the eyes of the law, children are given special care because they are much less likely to appreciate any harm that may befall them.

It is the duty of all adults, including you, to ensure children are not harmed. Thus, if a child sneaks onto your property and gets hurt, you are likely liable for anything that happens to them.

If someone has been injured on your property, or you or your child were injured on somebody else’s property, you may need legal representation.

Click here to schedule a free consultation with a skilled personal injury attorney.

You are in good hands.

by Suzanne Hale Robinson

Owner and Managing Partner, at Hale Robinson & Robinson.