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What is an attractive nuisance?

An attractive nuisance is something on someone’s property that attracts kids, but that could harm them if they access or come into contact with it.

FindLaw explains that some of the most common attractive nuisances include the following:

  • Swimming pools and pool chemicals
  • Playground equipment
  • Tree houses
  • Unattended dogs
  • Unattended outdoor trampolines
  • Unattended machinery such as a lawn mower, weed wacker, etc.

Attractive nuisance components

The attractive nuisance doctrine, which is part of the overall premises liability body of law, contains the following three components:

  1. The law exempts children from the responsibility of comprehending the dangers they may face, reasoning that they do not yet have the ability to appreciate such dangers.
  2. If the property’s owner, manager or resident has reason to believe that children will come onto his or her property, even as trespassers, (s)he has the responsibility of protecting them from harm while there.
  3. If (s)he fails to meet this responsibility, the injured child’s parents can sue for the child’s injuries.

Keep in mind that the “child” who injures himself or herself on the attractive nuisance need not be a young child. Depending on your jurisdiction, you may have a valid cause of action if your teenager injured himself or herself on someone’s attractive nuisance.

Bottom line, a property owner, manager or resident must take the necessary steps to protect children from any and all attractive nuisances on the property. This could include such things as enclosing the attractive nuisance, especially a swimming pool, trampoline or dog, inside a high fence accessed by a gate that remains locked when no adult is present to oversee safety concerns.

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