Children can be both curious and unpredictable — a combination that leads them to unknowingly doing something that could be dangerous. For example, they may go onto another’s property to explore a swimming pool, machines, play equipment or construction debris. Thus, property owners are bound to the “attractive nuisance” doctrine, which requires them to make their premises safe for children who may be enticed to enter their property due solely to an enticing object on the property.
Of course, there are limits to the attractive nuisance doctrine. In general, a property owner is responsible for man-made objects that he or she has reason to believe would be attractive to children and could cause a child to suffer serious injuries. Finally, the cost to fix the hazard must not be overly burdensome and it should not affect with the way the item or property is used.
There are certain steps property owners can take to avoid being liable under the attractive nuisance doctrine. Simply posting a sign is not enough, as some children do not know how to read, and even if they do, they may not understand the danger the sign addresses. Instead, property owners can remove the hazard. They could secure the hazard in a way that makes it inaccessible to the child. They should make sure they follow all local laws and regulations regarding property codes and inspections.
Some say it takes a village to raise a child, and for some people, at the very least that means keeping their property safe for a trespassing child. If a property owner fails to do so and the child is injured, they could face a premises liability claim. By holding negligent property owners accountable, an injured child can receive the compensation needed to cover his or her injury-related damages.