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Understanding the attractive nuisance doctrine

The onset of fall in Hazlehurst often sees children heading outdoors to take advantage of the final few weeks of warm weather before winter arrives. To your child, the outdoors offer a wealth adventures, some created by attractions whose dangers they may not fully comprehend. Sadly, several of the clients that we here at The Shannon Law Firm, PLLC have worked with have seen such attractions injure their kids. If such a misfortune has befallen your family, you may reasonably question how it is that your child was able to gain access to such a dangerous location, and whether or not you may be able to hold the property owner responsible. 

The attractive nuisance doctrine (as explained by the Cornell University Law School) states that liability may be assigned to property owners that do not take reasonable measures to ensure children are protected from dangerous features found on their land. Such legal responsibility may still be given even if your child was on the property without the owner's permission. The basis of this doctrine is founded on the idea that your child does not appreciate the risk that certain attractions pose. Thus, it's up to the owners of those attractions to shield kids from them. 

Courts often interpret the property features that qualify as attractive nuisances to be man-made structures that need to be maintained. Thus, rivers, ponds and lakes may not fall into this category. Attractions that do include: 

  • Swimming pools
  • Wells
  • Tunnels
  • Heavy equipment and machinery
  • Rooftops
  • Animals 

It is important to remember that this principle applies only if the property owner has not already taken steps to protect your child, such as erecting a fence around the feature or attraction in question. More information on assigning liability in personal injury cases is available here on our site. 

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