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What parents need to know about the attractive nuisance doctrine

On Behalf of | May 28, 2022 | Personal Injury |

Now that kids are beginning summer vacation, many are sure to be venturing into new places on their bikes, skateboards and on foot. A mix of adventure and boredom can lead children to get into things that can be dangerous. 

No matter how careful you are about keeping your home and property safe for your own children and those who visit (invited or not), everyone isn’t as careful. Many homeowners and even business owners assume that they can’t be held liable for any injury to someone to trespasses on their property.

When it comes to children, however, there are exceptions. The attractive nuisance doctrine is a big one. It’s used in the law and also in insurance. Basically, an attractive nuisance is anything that could tempt children to come onto a property and potentially harm them. If they are harmed by an attractive nuisance, the property owner can be held liable.

Some things deemed “attractive nuisances” may surprise you

Perhaps the most common example of an attractive nuisance is a swimming pool – even one with a fence around it if it can be seen from outside the property and the fence can be scaled or a gate is left open. Play equipment like trampolines, swing sets, see-saws, tree houses are attractive nuisances.

However, so are koi ponds, sculptures, fountains, ladders, landscaping equipment, weights, paint cans, holiday decorations and much more. While appliances are safer than they used to be if someone were to climb inside, you should still never leave one outside if you’re donating, trashing or recycling it. Animals, including pets, can also be considered attractive nuisances.

All property owners have a responsibility to protect children from attractive nuisances either by not having them out at all or making them inaccessible – typically through high, strong, locked fences and walls. It’s also best if they can’t be seen from outside the property.

If your child was injured on someone else’s property – even if they were somewhere they shouldn’t have been – it’s wise to learn more about the attractive nuisance doctrine and to seek legal guidance.