Attractive nuisance claims apply when children get hurt while trespassing. They are based on the attractive nuisance doctrine, which recognizes that children are naturally curious and do not fully comprehend the dangers of certain activities. If a child is drawn in by an attractive nuisance, or anything on someone’s property that is both dangerous or enticing to children, the property owner can be held liable for any injuries that occur.
When Is the Property Owner Liable?
Under the attractive nuisance doctrine, property owners have a special responsibility to protect children who may come onto their property. According to Nationwide, a property owner can be liable for an attractive nuisance claim if all of the following statements are true:
- A potentially dangerous condition existed on the property
- The landowner created or maintained the potential danger
- The landowner should have known the condition would attract children
- The landowner should have known the condition would harm children
Because children can be drawn to and harmed by almost anything, attractive nuisances do not include natural features, such as lakes, ponds, or trees, and the court usually considers any steps the landowner may have taken to fix a hazard or prevent injury.
What Are Some Examples of Attractive Nuisances?
The most common attractive nuisances are water features, such as swimming pools, fountains, and wells. Children love swimming, so they will naturally be attracted to water features, and they can easily drown, so these features are dangerous. Property owners should build walls and/or barriers and use pool covers and alarms to ensure that uninvited children do not get hurt on their property.
Other examples of attractive nuisances include:
- Dangerous animals
- Accessible roofs
- Tunnels and drainage ditches
- Abandoned vehicles or structures
- Discarded appliances
- Machinery (such as lawnmowers and other farm equipment)
- Construction sites
- And more
Any property owners who have these attractive nuisances on their premises should take precautions to protect children. If they fail to do so, they could be liable for injuries and losses.
Is There an Age Limit for Attractive Nuisance Claims?
Most states do not apply the attractive nuisance doctrine to children over the age of 6 or 7. In Texas, however, there are no age limits for attractive nuisance claims. As long as the child was too young to fully understand the danger in question, an attractive nuisance claim may be valid, so courts decide these claims on a case-by-case basis. In some situations, the court may even consider teenagers as children.
How Do I File an Attractive Nuisance Claim?
If you suspect your child has been harmed by an attractive nuisance, speak to an attorney right away. The attractive nuisance doctrine is part of premises liability law, so choose a lawyer with experience in this practice area.
We look forward to helping you and your family through this difficult time.