People of all ages are drawn to items, locations and unique features that have “wow factors.” As adults, we are able to simply acknowledge what we see and move on. “Oh, that’s a pretty swimming pool!” or “Wow, that’s a big hill,” or “Hmm. That’s an odd place for an old refrigerator,” you may think to yourself. Children on the other hand? Well, kids are often fascinated by “attractive nuisances.” If you are a parent, you may have a fear of what could happen to your kids if you are unable to keep an eye on them at all times. Could they wander into the neighbors’ backyard and fall into the pool? Could they take their sled at high-speed down a dangerous hill? Could they get locked in an old appliance?
Children are injured every year by situations such as these. However, parents should be aware of the attractive nuisance doctrine which means that you do have the right to hold property owners responsible for injury or death that occurs due to a dangerous object or property condition.
Take steps to mitigate risk
Property owners are responsible for maintaining safe and secure properties. If a dangerous condition exists, they can be held responsible for failing to secure or remedy the dangerous condition. In most instances, a warning sign is simply not enough — many kids cannot read or cannot appreciate the warning contained in the message. If you are a property owner, consider the following examples and what can be done to mitigate your liability.
- Connecticut law requires a four-foot fence around a pool, which is fine for protecting toddlers from falling in but may not be enough for children who know how to unlock gates and fences. Homeowners with pools can install secure fencing and motion sensors that alert them when someone has entered the pool area.
- A property owner with a hill traditionally used for unauthorized sledding may want to install a temporary fence across it during the winter months. This can make the hill appear less tantalizing and inaccessible to youngsters.
- If you must store an old appliance on your property (such as a refrigerator or freezer chest), remove the door entirely.
Whether you are a parent, a property owner or both, the attractive nuisance doctrine can serve as a reminder that you can never be too careful with safety when children are concerned. A personal injury attorney can assist parents who are dealing with injuries to their children due to attractive nuisances.