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What is the attractive nuisance doctrine?

Property owners have a responsibility to protect visitors to their property from getting hurt. Visitors to property can get hurt in various ways. The visitors who can get hurt can be of all different ages, too, including children. That's where the attractive nuisance doctrine comes into effect within premises liability law.

There are three parts to the doctrine and are as follows:

  • The doctrine does not expect children to have an understanding of dangers they could encounter on someone else's property.
  • The doctrine places a responsibility on a property owner to prevent injury to children if he or she believes children would have a reason to visit their property.
  • The doctrine allows for the property owner to be held liable for failing to meet the aforementioned responsibility if a child is injured on their property.

An attractive nuisance is defined as anything on a property that could be attractive to a child that would cause them to visit the property and explore. The following are some examples of possible attractive nuisances, which must be man-made (eliminating lakes, ponds and other naturally occurring dangers):

  • Lawnmower
  • Pools and fountains
  • Stairs
  • Animals
  • Tunnels

The actual definition of a 'child' as covered by the attractive nuisance doctrine will differ based on the court where the case is heard. Some courts still view teenagers who are under the age of 18 as children.

A child's curiosity is not always healthy, especially when it leads to an injury on someone else's property. An experienced premises liability attorney can explain the attractive nuisance doctrine and how it protects your children.

Source: FindLaw, "Dangers to Children: What is an Attractive Nuisance?," accessed July 21, 2017

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