What is an Attractive Nuisance?
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, home entertainment became a big priority for a lot of people. Even as lockdowns eased and people had the ability to get out of the house more often, lots of people still felt safer at home and wanted to bring the fun to them, especially if they had children who needed to be entertained. This meant that demand for things like backyard pools, home playground equipment, and trampolines all saw some growth in recent months. But while these types of features can help make staying home more fun, it’s very important to remember that they can also be considered attractive nuisances and it’s important to take steps to prevent children from getting hurt — including children who do not live on your property.
In many cases, if someone is injured on your property, property owners are only legally liable for their injuries if the injured person was lawfully on the property at the time of their accident. So, for example, if someone trips and falls while trespassing or breaking into a home, the property owner likely would not be responsible for those injuries. But when an uninvited person on your property is a young child, other standards are involved.
Adults are expected to understand that it is morally and legally wrong to trespass on someone else’s property, but very young children don’t necessarily grasp that concept yet. Sometimes, a child will see something in a neighbor’s yard and all they’ll know is that they want to play with it, whether they have permission to or not. Things like swimming pools, trampolines, playground equipment, ponds/fountains, tools, and lawn equipment can all be very tempting for children who are too young to understand just how dangerous they can be. These sorts of things are referred to as attractive nuisances for this very reason.
Given the limited reasoning skills young children have, the law puts a responsibility on the adults who have attractive nuisances on their property to take reasonable steps to make them less accessible to children. Posting “No Trespassing” or “No Swimming” signs isn’t necessarily considered enough because children might not be able to read yet or understand what the word “trespassing” means. Instead, property owners are expected to be more proactive. For example, if a property owner has been using things like ladders, lawn mowers, or other powerful tools while working in their yard, those things should be securely stored out of sight when not in use. Or if they have a pool in their backyard, the pool should be fenced in with a gate that automatically closes.
Attractive nuisances can include many different things and in cases involving them, several factors will need to be considered, including the age of the child, if the property owner should have reasonably known that young children were nearby, if reducing the risk would have placed an excessive burden on the property owner, and if the property owner should have known that something could be attractive/dangerous to children.
If your child was injured by something that might be considered an attractive nuisance, it’s very important to talk to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. By working with a lawyer, you’ll be able to get answers to all of your questions and have someone on your side who will fight for your child to get all of the care they need. At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to talk to a lawyer experienced in handling Michigan personal injury cases. Contact us today for help with your claim.
Image: iStock / Hussein Kassir