The Attractive Nuisance Doctrine: A Risk for Homeowners
Charlotte, NC Personal Injury Lawyer
Childhood is usually a wondrous time of discovery and exploration. It is enjoyable to see the look on a child’s face when he or she is learning about something for the first time.
However, it is not always enjoyable from a legal perspective. It can be problematic when a child wanders onto a homeowner’s property and gets injured in the process of exploring. This area of law is referred to as the attractive nuisance doctrine, and could lead to a homeowner being liable for injuries a child sustains on his property.
This doctrine, created in the 19th century, requires homeowners to exercise reasonable care to protect children, particularly those who trespass onto the homeowners’ property, against harm. The homeowner is required to take precautions with items or areas that would entice a child to enter onto the property.
What Leads to a Cause of Action Under this Doctrine?
In order to show cause under this doctrine, the homeowner/defendant must know or have reason to know that children are likely to come onto his or her property, and must know that an unreasonably dangerous condition exists on the property. In addition, it must be shown that the child would not be able to discover or appreciate the risk imposed by the condition.
Other elements to show are whether maintaining the condition and the burden of eliminating it are less than the potential risk to children and whether the defendant/homeowner failed to reasonably care and make safe conditions on his or her property.
What Constitutes an Attractive Nuisance?
The next question on most people’s minds is what exactly constitutes an attractive nuisance? Swimming pools are often enticing to children – easy access, plus an awareness there are children nearby could pose a risk. Machinery such as lawnmowers and other tools that are left unattended can also be problematic. Wells, sheds, treehouses and other structures can all appeal to an unsuspecting child who is seeking to satisfy his curiosity and might not be aware of any risk in doing so.
Many states have abolished the traditional attractive nuisance elements and simply utilize premises liability law or have a statute that defines specific rules for homeowners. For example, many states have a statute that requires a fence or other security measures be placed around a pool. Failing to comply with such a statute can often lead to liability for injuries.
In general, premises liability law focuses on whether a homeowner was negligent and failed to exercise reasonable care with regards to dangers on his or her property. The approach here assigns a duty to the homeowner to warn of known and latent dangers which are not known to a child and which the child could not reasonably discover on his or her own.
The age of a child is often considered when determining whether he or she is able to appreciate a possible risk. For example, most children, even those very young, know that fire is dangerous. However, there are other risks that teenagers may understand, but a younger child may not.
Get Legal Help
If you or a loved one was harmed on another’s property, be sure to reach out to an injury lawyer today to learn about your rights. For experienced counsel in North or South Carolina, contact us as Bice Law, LLC today to ensure you receive the fair compensation you need to help your road to recovery.
Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Bice Law
The personal injury firm of Bice Law will examine your case to determine the type and amount of damages that your injury warrants, including payments for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability. We’ll determine whether an out-of-court settlement or trial is the best strategy to obtain maximum benefits for you or your family. If you have suffered injury or harm because of someone else’s actions, take the first step to protect your legal rights – contact the personal injury firm of Bice Law serving both North and South Carolina. You only have a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so act quickly. Call 877-BICE-877 today or submit an online request to get a free consultation with a personal injury attorney. We serve families across both North Carolina and South Carolina.