What Are Attractive Nuisance Dangers?
We all know that children are playful and very curious – which helps with learning and exploration, but can also get them into dangerous situations. Everyday objects, such as pools and trampolines, on other people’s property, can irresistibly draw children onto the property, but also present them with hidden dangers, also known as attractive nuisance dangers.
If your property contains items that both draw children in and threaten them with harm, the law places a special responsibility on you to take steps to protect the children who may come onto your property. This duty is generally called the “attractive nuisance” doctrine.
Typically, the attractive nuisance doctrine has three components:
- The law doesn’t expect children to fully comprehend the dangers they may face
- If a property owner has reason to believe that children might come onto their property, the law places a special responsibility on them to prevent harm
- If an owner fails to meet this responsibility, they will most likely be held liable for the child’s injuries.
What is an Attractive Nuisance?
An attractive nuisance is defined as a building, object or other area that attracts visitors who may or may not be welcome. These areas may not be properly fenced in or contain warning signs of their impending dangers. Attractive nuisance injuries can be quite serious, and sometimes even fatal; yet they are often preventable. Employers have the power to stop entrance onto their property to discourage trespassers from coming in and getting hurt. For you, this may mean putting up fencing around your swimming pool, posting “No Trespassing” signs or placing a pool cover on your pool at the end of each workday.
A swimming pool can pose a danger to trespassers at any time of year, as demonstrated in Bennett v. Stanley, decided by the Ohio Supreme Court in 2001. The court created the “attractive nuisance doctrine,” stating that properly owners are liable for the harm of trespassing children. In this case, the pool was abandoned and needed repair when a child crawled through a hole in the fencing and fell in. His mother attempted to save him, though they both ended up drowning.
Whether pools are closed, unsupervised or full of swimmers, you must take steps to prevent trespassers from entering your property and harming themselves.
What are some typical attractive nuisances?
Typical attractive nuisances include:
- Swimming pools and fountains
- Machinery (lawnmowers, gasoline pumps, etc)
- Wells and tunnels
- Dangerous animals
- Paths and stairs
What is Owner Liability?
As the owner of the property, you are responsible for assuring that visitors, guests and trespassers are safe and avoid injury. You need to take all precautions with pools such as covering to avoid accidental drowning, placing sturdy fencing around the area and display warning signs of pool hours. In addition, all safety equipment should be stored and locked at the end of each day to avoid trespasser tampering. Any other equipment that presents attractive nuisance dangers, such as water features, rides or heavy equipment, should also be adequately fenced off or locked down.
What is Premise Liability for Businesses?
Property owners are also liable for the maintenance and security that the property needs so that it remains safe for all visitors. This includes the following:
- Fixing cracks or gaps in walkways to avoid slip and fall dangers
- Locking all hazardous tools, equipment and chemicals away from the public
- Ensuring that employees can conduct work duties without the risk of injury
- Hanging flood lights in areas with low visibility
- Hiring security guards for added protection
- Installing rescue equipment, like ropes and poles
- Installing alert devices, such as flashing lights, sirens, alarms and telephones to alert security that someone has trespassed onto the premises
With regard to attractive nuisance cases, negligence means that the property owner was aware that someone could get hurt on the property and did nothing to prevent it. Take all necessary precautions to protect individuals on your property. For more assistance in protecting your property, contact GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. today. 209-634-2929
How Can I Protect Myself from Attractive Nuisance Liability?
Be aware and take precautions. Childproofing your property isn’t required, but taking some basic actions to prevent injury goes a long way toward avoiding attractive nuisance liability. Courts tend to punish people who didn’t seem to care or put any effort into encouraging safety. If you can list the steps you took to prevent injury, many courts will be satisfied, even if they didn’t ultimately work.
Use common sense and good judgment. If you see children interested in something on your property, that alone can trigger liability by establishing that you’re aware they’re interested. Lock it up, fence it up, do whatever you can. Signs are helpful but generally won’t save you by themselves – you must take steps to prevent children from gaining access to the attractive nuisance.
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