The “attractive nuisance doctrine” protects children who wander or trespass onto another’s property and suffer an injury caused by a dangerous condition on the premises. Attractive nuisances include swimming pools, fountains, abandoned refrigerators or washing machines, discarded vehicles, and even holes on the ground.
In general, a property owner may be responsible for a child’s injuries if:
- A property owner knows there is a condition that exists on the premises that is dangerous
- The dangerous condition is known to or should be known to cause unreasonable risk of harm to children
- Due to their age, the children do not realize the dangers of the condition
- The burden on the owner to eliminate the risk is less compared to the risk posed to children
- A property owner fails to act with reasonable care to remove the danger or protect the child from the risk of danger, such as putting up a fence, removing appliances from the property, or posting warning signs around the attractive nuisance
In addition, the dangerous condition must be one that is man-made and constitutes as an attractive “trap” for children. Property owners near a playground, school, residential area, or other populated areas where children frequent may have a greater duty to eliminate dangers.
Despite various requirements and restrictions in place, attractive nuisances still have the potential to cause significant harm to children. Furthermore, if these requirements are not met, the potential for harm is much greater.