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What if your child is injured by an “attractive nuisance?”

As summer begins and your kids are out and about (perhaps more than they’ve been in over a year), they may be tempted to go onto someone else’s residential or commercial property by an “attractive nuisance.” An attractive nuisance is an insurance term as well as a legal term that describes anything on a property that could attract children and expose them to potential danger.

If a feature of a property is considered an attractive nuisance, the homeowner or property owner could be held liable for any injuries suffered by a child even if they weren’t supposed to be there.

Attractive nuisances aren’t just the obvious temptations

One of the most common examples of an attractive nuisance is a swimming pool. Swing sets, trampolines, tree houses and other play area equipment are others. There are some attractive nuisances that aren’t so obvious to adults but very tempting to kids. These include:

  • Fountains and other water features
  • Appliances, machinery or tools left outside
  • Ladders and scaffolding
  • Animals

Property owners have a duty to recognize that a feature on their property may be a temptation to children and cause them to trespass on their property. Property owners are expected to take reasonable precautions to prevent children from accessing an attractive nuisance.

What precautions should property owners take?

Having a locked, gated fence or wall around a pool can prevent kids from reaching it. However, having signs warning people to stay out of an area generally is not considered enough to relieve the property owner of liability when it comes to children being injured.

It’s always wise to warn your children about not going onto someone else’s property unless they’re invited by that person (and they know them, of course). However, we all remember when we were kids and the temptation to do something new or investigate something different got the better of us.

If your child has been injured on someone else’s property, a property owner might try to argue that they have no liability because your child was trespassing. That’s why it’s essential to understand whether the attractive nuisance doctrine applies. Experienced legal guidance can help you learn more.