Protecting Children from an Attractive Nuisance
Children are attracted to things that adults know are dangerous. As a result, children might jump into an uncovered well, swim in an unwatched pool, use rusty playground equipment, or engage in other behavior that is unsafe. Given society’s responsibility to protect children from their own bad judgment, this tendency of children to risk their own lives has lead to the concept of the attractive nuisance.
What is an Attractive Nuisance?
The legal concept of attractive nuisance is simply this – property owners can be held liable if they have something on their property that may attract children and injure them. One of the most common sources of injury and liability involves an improperly secured swimming pool. If your pool is not properly secured and a child plays in it and drowns, in addition to being devastated, you might be financially liable for the death of that child. It is very important to secure your pool to keep children from swimming in it without your permission and adult supervision.
The Five Criteria of the Attractive Nuisance
In most cases, five criteria must be filled for a structure to be considered an attractive nuisance.
- It is reasonable to believe that the structure will entice children to trespass. The structure must be “attractive” to children; the doctrine does not simply apply to all hazardous structures.
- The property owner understands (or should understand) the risk the structure poses to children. The risk must be apparent to a reasonable person. A structure is not considered a reasonable nuisance if the injury that occurs is because of an unforeseeable freak accident.
- Children, because of their youth, are unable to understand the risk that the structure poses. The risk must be one that children cannot comprehend; a structure so obviously dangerous that even a child could understand the risks associated with it would likely not qualify as an attractive nuisance, although it may be considered as another type of nuisance.
- The cost of eliminating the risk is insignificant compared to the risk involved. It must not require unreasonably large amounts of resources to eliminate the risk.
- The property owner does not exercise reasonable care to eliminate the risk. Finally, the owner does not take action to eliminate the risk. If an owner does take reasonable care and a child still trespasses, the owner would likely not be held liable for harboring an attractive nuisance.
Was Your Child Injured Due to an Improperly Secured Attractive Nuisance?
If your child has been injured as a result of an attractive nuisance, contact the Philadelphia personal injury lawyers of Lowenthal & Abrams at 888-979-7298. We will discuss what happened and help you determine if you have a case.
Think you have an Attractive Nuisance?
This article is not intended to serve as, or as a replacement for, legal advice. If you believe you might have an attractive nuisance on your property, please contact an attorney who can advise you on your obligations. But in the end, better safe than sorry.