A neighbor can install features such as a pool, equipment or other things that make their home an inescapable designation for children. Without taking reasonable precautions, however, these can become an attractive nuisance that causes injury and grounds for a premises liability lawsuit.
Attractive nuisances include a wide range of things that attract teenagers and children to a property. In addition to swimming pools and playground equipment, these can also include construction projects and materials, landscaping, vehicles and other items.
An attractive nuisance may impose liability if it is a potentially hazardous condition, the landowner made or kept that condition, the landowner should have known that the dangerous condition would attract children and the property owner should have known that the condition had the potential to harm children.
The law treats children, especially younger children, differently than trespassing adults. Children are not held to the standard of responsibility held by adults to avoid injury if there is an attractive nuisance. Pools, fountains and wells are common attractive nuisances. Owners are legally liable for accidents even if a person uses the pool without the owner’s permission.
Owners should take reasonable precautions, such as surrounding a pool with a fence that is at least four feet high, using a safety cover, installing a locking gate with an alarm, having rescue items and putting away toys after swimming. Other water features, such as fountains, should be equipped with attractive barriers to prevent accidents.
Playground equipment and toys, particularly swings and trampolines, are also injury sources. Safety equipment may be installed to help prevent injuries. A locked, alarmed fence around the play area may keep uninvited or unknown people from using this equipment.
Construction projects and equipment pose risks because children explore them and use them to play. Debris should be cleaned up, tools and equipment need to be securely stored, and ladders laid on their side, among other things. Warning signs and safety cones should be placed in unfinished or elevated areas where falls may occur.
Owners should also be aware of other nuisances, such as weapons, unused refrigerators and unused vehicles. State and local laws and codes also impose requirements on property owners.
Victims of injuries stemming from an attractive nuisance or other dangerous property condition may be entitled to compensation. An attorney can help them pursue their legal rights.