Under the attractive nuisance doctrine, property owners have a duty to take reasonable steps to keep children safe and they can sometimes be held liable when child trespassers are injured. If a property has a dangerous feature that might be of interest to children, enticing them to enter the property to play, the owner could be liable for injuries if steps are not taken to make sure the feature is secured.
Understanding the Attractiveness of a Property
In order to understand the attractive nuisance doctrine, homeowners must first understand what makes an item interesting to a child. If an item, like a pool or hot tub, is something a child would normally want to play with, on or in, it falls into the attractive nuisance doctrine. Under this law, lawmakers assume that children do not understand the risks of these types of items. If a child enters the property to play and is injured or killed, the home’s owner may be responsible.
Understanding the Homeowner’s Responsibility
In light of this law, what is the home’s owner’s responsibility? The attractive nuisance doctrine requires homeowners and other property owners to take reasonable steps to protect children from these attractive nuisances, even if the children are trespassing. Under the law, homeowners may be held legally liable for injuries to a child if several factors are in place, including:
- The item is artificial
- It is an item a child would want to use or access
- The home’s owner should understand the dangerous conditions
- The time and expense necessary to protect children from the risk are small compared to the potential injuries
- Reasonable measures could make the condition safer.
A pool is a good example of this type of risk. Children are naturally drawn to play in pools, but can easily drown without supervision. Adding a small fence around the pool or the yard that is tall enough the child could not climb it would be adequate protection. If, on the other hand, the property has a lake, which is naturally occurring, the property’s owner has no responsibility to add measures of protection. Working with a Las Vegas premises liability lawyer can help homeowners understand where these risks may lie, so they can take the necessary precautions.