What is an “Attractive Nuisance?”
For the third time that month, a group of children trespass into their neighbors’ back yard to use his swimming pool. Even though he had caught them in the past and forced them to leave, this time he and his family are out of town for the weekend. While the trespassing children are there, one of them accidentally drowns. Who should be held responsible?
In injury law, the “attractive nuisance” doctrine is often applied to situations like these. This doctrine holds that, under some conditions, property owners can be held liable for injuries to children who trespass. Under this doctrine, children are presumed to frequently misunderstand the danger of certain situations. On the other hand, adults who own property that tends to draw trespassing children—so-called attractive nuisances—are expected to be aware of the risks.
For this reason, property owners can be found liable for injuries to children if they do not take steps to minimize the risk of trespassing children becoming injured. In order to do so, there are usually four requirements that have to be met: the property owner knows or believes that the property draws children; the owner realizes the property poses a serious risk to children; there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk; and the property owner fails to eliminate the risk.
If your child has been seriously injured after trespassing on the property of a neighbor, and you believe that neighbor realized the danger but didn’t try to prevent it, he or she might be liable for your child’s injuries.