Attractive Nuisance Definition
Attractive nuisance refers to an item or a dangerous condition that exists on a property that is likely to attract children but has the potential of causing harm to them. An attractive nuisance may lead to expensive injuries that see the property owner land in a very costly lawsuit.
Under tort law, there is a doctrine that safeguards children who are not aware of risks an item poses. The doctrine imposes injury liability to the property owner in case of an injury to trespassing children. So, it is the owner of the property’s responsibility to either prevent or eliminate the danger.
A Little More on What is Attractive Nuisance
Children are naturally curious and playful and may find some items in people’s property irresistible. They are always attracted to the things they see around them, and they would want to explore them.
However, keep in mind that something that seems attractive to children can also have a hidden potential danger. For this reason, all property owners need to make such attractive nuisance not accessible to children to protect them from unforeseen risks.
So, if your land has an item that may attract children and is also capable of harming them, the law expects you to protect them from that danger. An attractive nuisance is a term used in tort law to defend children who trespass a property. Its establishment was on the belief that if you maintain a dangerous condition on your land that attracts children, you must take affirmative measures to protect them from the attraction related risks.
Note that the doctrine does not apply to the grown-ups. However, if an adult gets injured while trying to save a child from an attractive nuisance, then the doctrine will apply. It means that the property owner will be held liable for both the injuries (child and adult’s injuries).
Components of the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine
An attractive nuisance doctrine is made up of three components. They are as follows:
According to law, children are not capable of comprehending the dangers that face them. So, don’t expect them to be fully aware of those dangers. The property owner has the responsibility of preventing children from the harm that his property poses, especially if it is capable of attracting them. Where a property owner fails to be responsible, he or she is held liable for any injury that may come to the children.
Examples of Attractive Nuisance
An attractive nuisance can be a structure, an object, or a condition that is attractive and at the same time, dangerous to children. Right below are examples of attractive nuisance and how you can prevent or eliminate the dangers associated with them.
If the water in your home is capable of drowning someone, then it becomes a hazard. If you own something like a swimming pool, pond, or fountain, then you have no choice but to put protective measures. Remember, these are things that can attract children to your home, and at the same time, they can drown in them.
To reduce the risk, make sure you build a fence that is not accessible to children. For instance, the fence should be high and also difficult for children to climb. A lockable gate with an alarm can also prevent children from accessing the facility.
Playground toys and equipment
Playground equipment includes items such as zip lines, swings, trampolines, and climbing equipment. According to the Center for Disease Control (DCD), playground equipment causes most injuries in children. So, it is important to ensure that the playground equipment is well maintained.
It is also necessary to check for any wear and tear on a regular basis to ensure that it is in good condition. If you have such items in your backyard, a locked fence and an alarm around your fence could be helpful. The alarm will notify you of any trespass.
Construction projects are also attractive to children. So, when working on any construction, make sure to keep the place inaccessible to children or remove things that may attract the children and are likely to cause injury to them.
For instance, things like ladder may be stairways to children in remote areas which they may want to explore. And while doing the exploration, they may fall down and may sustain serious injuries. To avoid this, you should lay the ladders down if not in use.
One can also ensure that all other construction tools and machines that may harm children are kept under lock and key. Putting hazard signs as well as safety cones in areas that are potentially dangerous can be of great help.
Having weapons in your home can also pose a danger to children. Their curiosity to explore things puts their lives in danger with weapons around. It is, therefore, important to keep them in a safe and lockable place, away from their reach.
Things such as gravel and sand piles, old appliances, cars, and other things that can arouse the curiosity of children and attract them, are classified as attractive nuisances. It is, therefore, important to safely keep your junk items so as to prevent some unforeseen injuries.
Remember, for you to be liable for injury, you must be maintaining the harmful object or must have created the item. Therefore, some natural conditions like a steep bank, river, or lake that may happen to be in your land cannot be an attractive nuisance.
The Bottom Line
As a property owner, common sense can limit your liability that attractive nuisance may cause. It is, therefore, important to think of something that you own in your home that could be a source of accidents to trespassers and eliminate it before you land in a juicy lawsuit.
Reference for “ Attractive Nuisances”
Academics research on “ Attractive Nuisances”
The Attractive Nuisance Doctrine in Tennessee, Noel, D. W. (1949). The Attractive Nuisance Doctrine in Tennessee. Tenn. L. Rev., 21, 658.
Shielding Duty: How Attending to Assumption of Risk, Attractive Nuisance, and Other Quaint Doctrines Can Improve Decisionmaking in Negligence Cases, Goldberg, J. C., & Zipursky, B. C. (2005). Shielding Duty: How Attending to Assumption of Risk, Attractive Nuisance, and Other Quaint Doctrines Can Improve Decisionmaking in Negligence Cases. S. cAl. l. reV., 79, 329.
The Politics of Legal Reasoning: Conceptual Contests and Racial Segregation, Rothstein, L. E. (1980). The Politics of Legal Reasoning: Conceptual Contests and Racial Segregation. Val. UL Rev., 15, 81.
Agritourism; health and safety guidelines for children, Humann, M., & Lee, B. (2007). Agritourism; health and safety guidelines for children.
Who cares about the fallacies?, Woods, J. (2004). Who cares about the fallacies?. In The Death of Argument (pp. 3-23). Springer, Dordrecht. The main business of this chapter is to motivate the systematic study of fallacious reasoning and argument. In its most usual meaning, a fallacy is a common misconception; that is, a false statement that is widely believed. Examples of such statements are, “Handling frogs causes warts” , “You’ll catch a cold if you sit in a draft” , and at a more academic level “John Stuart Mill thought that every valid argument begs the question”. (Recall the Prologue!)