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"Dangerous objects" on property
What could go wrong? Attractive Nuisance: landlords are held responsible for injuries caused by “dangerous objects” on their property. Image: Flickr.

According to the Law of Torts, the term “attractive nuisance” is used to refer to landowners being held responsible for injuries to trespassing children on their property if the cause of their injury came from dangerous objects or even land condition that can attract the attention of children who are not aware of the dangers. This doctrine is used to hold landowners responsible for possible injuries caused by piles of lumber, broken cars, sand, trampoline, swimming pools as well as other objects found on the property.

The conditions before the Attractive Nuisance doctrine is said to be met are the following:

  • The landowner knows or has an inkling that children might trespass on their land.
  • The condition is one that the landowner knows or has an idea that it can cause serious harm even death to trespassing children.
  • Due to the young age of the children do not understand the condition or the potential risk of inter-meddling or coming closer within the area that is deemed dangerous.
  • The possessor’s ability to maintain the utility as well as the burden of removing the said danger is less compared to the threat to the children involved.
  • The possessor has failed to carefully remove all objects that pose a danger or wasn’t able to protect the children.

Although there is a provision in the doctrine that the landowner or possessor may be exempted if signs have been put up around the property warning of the dangers, there are times when this is not acceptable especially when the child involved doesn’t know how to read. The landowner should take all the necessary steps to make their property secured especially when there are dangerous objects around.

Top 5 Attractive Nuisances

There are plenty of sources of potential dangers around that can cause trouble for many landowners. These can range from small to big items that are found to be attractive by youngsters. Here are some examples of attractive nuisances where landowners can be held liable in case children are injured.

  • Swimming Pools – Swimming pools are also another source of attractive nuisances especially when they have other enticing add-ons like springboard and slide. Landowners should make sure that their property is fenced in to keep away trespassing children.
  • Discarded Appliances – Appliances that are no longer used and disposed of on the property can be a potential threat to children. Fortunately, the rate of children being trapped to abandoned refrigerators, dryers, and chest freezers have declined considerably because companies have built in opening mechanism from the inside. There are laws also requiring the lids of such appliances to be removed prior to disposal.
  • Abandoned Automobiles – An automobile that has been abandoned can be quite enticing to children. The wheels and engine add to the attraction and most of the injuries sustained by kids are by accidentally setting the car in motion. This is one of the reasons why some courts do not hold the owner responsible because the car has been set in motion by the child.
  • Holes in the Ground – Landowners can be held responsible for holes in the ground that may cause injury or death to a child. Sewer drains, drainage ditches, and excavated areas are potential hazards that landowners should be aware of. Removing all access to these places can prevent any attractive nuisances to be filed against the owner.
  • Playthings – Landowners that have structures built like skateboard ramps, trampolines, slides, and swing sets should be aware of their dangers.

Protecting Against Attractive Nuisance

The liability coverage of most home insurance also covers the cost of going to court as well as hospitalization in case a child is injured on your property. For homeowners who are thinking of adding a trampoline or a pool on their property, it would be better if you consult with your insurance agent first to determine whether you will need additional insurance coverage. Usually, home insurance policies have liability coverage amounting to $100,000 but if you are planning on installing a pool it might be better if you increase this to $300,000.

Insurance agencies see trampolines as a big risk and may not give you the coverage you need if you plan on buying one. Even if you are granted insurance, there might be an exemption when it comes to trampolines so make sure that you read your policy carefully before anything else.

There is no sure list of items on what can be considered as attractive nuisances. Basically, it is anything that can have the potential of attracting the attention of young children that can be dangerous to them. For homeowners, removing any object on their property that can cause injury is a must and all holes and cracks should be fixed to lessen the chances of kids getting hurt while on their property.

Keep in mind that natural phenomena are not part of the attractive nuisances which means trees and other landscaping items shouldn’t be considered dangerous.