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What is an Attractive Nuisance?

By Butler Prather LLP on October 24, 2019

Some things just seem to call out to kids and say, “Come onto the property and play.” This can include various attractions like pools, playground equipment, other toys, and more. These items work like a magnet, but they can also present dangers. They can be so dangerous that they become an “attractive nuisance.”

What is an attractive nuisance?

Properly defining attractive nuisance

Children are naturally curious and tend to be more reckless when it comes to decision making. These predispositions can lead to serious trouble, especially when they are wandering the neighborhood alone or with friends. Kids can wander onto someone else’s property and get hurt. While most premises liability laws are not favorable to trespassers, that changes when a property owner has something on the premises that is particularly attractive or alluring that could attract a child.

Some of the most common “attractive nuisances” include:

  • Swimming pools
  • Playground equipment
  • Skateboard ramps
  • Trampolines
  • Hot tubs
  • Manmade fountains or ponds
  • Fake trees
  • Animals
  • Wells
  • Old appliances
  • Old cars
  • Tunnels
  • Giant manmade hills of sand
  • Dug out trenches
  • Construction materials

The reason for the attractive nuisance doctrine

While an adult would reasonably understand that they should not go onto someone else’s premises and play on their property, a child may not realize the risks associated with a certain attraction. The attractive nuisance doctrine, under premises liability law, seeks to protect children who are injured due to the negligent actions of the property owner for failing to reasonably foresee their attractions could cause injuries to a child.

How can property owners be held accountable?

Attractive nuisance cases can become complex, and there are five factors that should be present for the attractive nuisance doctrine to apply to the case.

  1. The property owner knew or should have known that children were likely to try and access their property to get to the attractive object.
  2. The injured child was too young to understand and recognize the risks posed by the attractive object.
  3. The property owner failed to care for their property from reasonably foreseeable dangers, which created unsafe elements that could harm anyone entering the property.
  4. The property owner knew or should have known that there was an unreasonably dangerous condition on the property and failed to take steps to remedy any hazardous elements.
  5. The cost of properly maintaining and addressing dangerous conditions was minor compared to the risk it posed to children.

Property owners can avoid attractive nuisance cases by properly inspecting, maintaining, and securing their premises from unreasonable access by children. For example, this could include putting a fence with a locking gate around a swimming pool or filling in holes in the ground.

Is there compensation available for these cases?

These cases will be treated as premises liability cases, and you could be entitled to compensation if your child is injured. This compensation can include:

  • Coverage of medical expenses related to the incident
  • Recovery of lost wages if you are unable to work while caring for your child
  • Pain and suffering damages
  • Loss of enjoyment of life damages
  • Possible punitive damages against the property owner

Each case is different, and the amount of compensation will vary based on a variety of factors. A skilled premises liability attorney will be able to guide you through this process and ensure you are treated fairly.

Posted in: Premises Liability

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