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Attractive Nuisance Doctrine Protects Injured Children in Maryland, Virginia and D.C.

Children face dangers every day as they explore the world around them. Some of these dangers can be avoided, like using car seats to reduce the risk of injuries, but other dangers are inherent to the very objects which attract children toward them - such as trampolines, jungle-gyms, or backyard swimming pools. These are known as “attractive nuisances." Landowners have a legal obligation to protect children from them. Failure to do so resulting in personal injury or wrongful death can be grounds for legal action and compensation
attractive nuisance

The Attractive Nuisance Doctrine

In general, the attractive nuisance doctrine holds landowners liable for a child’s injuries caused by the owner’s failure to protect the child from an attractive nuisance on his or her property. The idea is that the landowner knows from past experience or common sense that children are likely to enter the property in order play on or in these areas unsupervised.

Imposing liability upon the landowner usually requires:

  1. The landowner knows (or should know) that children night trespass on the property.
  2. The condition on the property can cause injury or death to children.
  3. The injured child is too young to understand the dangers associated with the attractive nuisance.
  4. The cost of repairing or maintaining the attractive nuisance in a safe condition is small in comparison to the injuries it can cause.
  5. The landowner failed to take reasonable actions to prevent children from being injured by the attractive nuisance.

Fencing, warning signs and locks are generally precautions that are highly recommended to the landowner and can help prevent these types of accidents.

Common Attractive Nuisances

Swimming Pools: Drowning is one of the most common causes of death for young children in the United States. These circumstances caused the tragic deaths of a 5-year-old and his mother in Ohio. According to court records of the Supreme Court of Ohio, a 5-year-old crossed onto his neighbors’ yard one day, and fell into the family’s swimming pool. The swimming pool had been drained and was unused. The neighbors later testified that they did not use the pool, and therefore had not put fencing or signs around it. Nonetheless, rainwater had accumulated in the pool, and it now held water to a depth of approximately six feet. Ricky fell in the pool and drowned. His mother, attempting to save him, also drowned in the pool that day.

Playground-Type Equipment:  Swing-sets, jungle-gyms, and trampolines among others.

Construction Sites: Power lines, towers, equipment, heavy machinery, moving parts, and shiny objects all attract children to construction sites. The potential sources of injury on a construction site can be countless. This is why children are legally prohibited from being present on most construction sites. Young children, of course, remain ignorant of such laws and dangers, and can find themselves on construction sites regardless. Construction firms, managers, and supervisors must all take action to prevent children from having access to construction sites.

Man-made ponds, lakes, fountains and other water features also pose serious danger to children - even children who know how to swim. Landowners must take reasonable precautions to protect children from any source of water on their land.

Railroads: Railroads were the original attractive nuisance, and they are the reason this legal doctrine exists. Large moving parts and electrical lines create the risk of serious injuries to children who are lured into railroad lines and equipment areas. Railroad companies and landowners must secure these areas to protect children against the dangers therein.

Man-made ponds, lakes, fountains and other water features also pose serious danger to children - even children who know how to swim. Landowners must take reasonable precautions to protect children from any source of water on their land.

If your child has been injured on someone else’s property, he or she has legal rights which must be protected. Contact a D.C. area personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

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301-251-1286

301-251-1286