A person can be sued for premises liability if any visitor to his property gets injured. Wet floors lead to slip and fall, defective sidewalks may make people fall, falling objects may hit people in the head, dogs may bite them, and the list goes on and on.
However, the property owner´s liability will depend on the visitor’s categorization. Visitors may be invitees (like social guests), may be licensees (people coming onto the property for commercial or personal reasons, such as visitors to a store), or they may be trespassers (individuals who trespass a property´s limits without invitation or permission). When it comes to trespassers, determining owner´s liability is not always easy or feasible.
Nevertheless, to protect children even if they are “trespassers”, there is the figure of “attractive nuisance”.
An attractive nuisance is a condition or attraction on someone´s property that will most likely fascinate and attract children. It is well known that swimming pools, swings, trampolines, or construction equipment may be highly appealing to children. Nevertheless, almost any condition can be considered an attractive nuisance if it attracts children to play and then get injured playing on it or around it.
For a defendant landowner to be liable for injuries resulting from an attractive nuisance, the following must be proven by the plaintiff´s premises liability attorney:
- The object or condition is located in a place where the owner should know children may trespass.
- The condition is something that the owner should clearly understand that can injure or cause death to children who trespass. A good example is a swimming pool clearly visible on an easy to trespass backyard.
- Given their age, children are not capable of understanding that the object or condition could injure or kill them if they interfered or got excessively close to it.
- The utility of keeping the object or condition and the burden of putting a stop to children from reaching it are small when compared to the risk it poses to trespassing kids.
- The owner has not utilized “reasonable care” to prevent children from being injured or killed by the condition or object.
Courts consider that children are naturally curious and are not always aware of the dangers of certain objects or activities, and some objects placed on someone´s property may be irresistible for them. Consequently, the law entails a higher duty to landowners to protect the little ones when the landlord knows that a particular condition or object on their property may put children at risk of injury or death.
Landowners should then take precautions to prevent foreseeable injuries, such as putting up fences around swimming pools.
If you are in doubt whether you could be sued for “attractive nuisance,” make sure to follow all applicable laws regarding precautions, or if your kid has suffered injuries in a property other than yours, you should consult with a premises liability attorney before it is too late.