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Was your child injured by an attractive nuisance?

On Behalf of | Jun 19, 2023 | Injuries

As summer gets underway, most kids will have a lot of time on their hands to wander the neighborhood and beyond. That means getting into some potentially dangerous situations. Kids are natural explorers, and they often don’t pay attention to what is someone else’s private property.

What if your child is injured on someone else’s property. Is the property owner liable even if they were there without permission? 

Under North Carolina law, most people on someone else’s private property are either considered invitees or trespassers. In most cases, property owners aren’t responsible when trespassers are injured on their property – unless they’ve done something intended to harm trespassers, like set a booby-trap.

Children, however, generally aren’t considered trespassers because they can’t always be expected to understand the concept. Further, if there’s a feature or object on the property that’s just too tempting to resist (an “attractive nuisance”), a property owner may be considered liable if the child is harmed by it. They’re expected to either remove it or take appropriate steps to prevent children from being able to access it.

Common attractive nuisances

Typically, when people (and insurance companies) think of attractive nuisances, the following come to mind:

  • Pools
  • Playground equipment (like swing sets and trampolines) and treehouses
  • Water features (including man-made ponds, fountains and wells)
  • Construction projects, including the dangerous equipment and toxic substances that often accompany them.
  • Weapons

Firearms, of course, need to be locked up, along with ammunition. Too many tragedies have occurred because children couldn’t tell the difference between a real gun and a toy one.

Discarded appliances and unlocked cars (especially older ones that don’t have safety latches inside the trunk) can also prove dangerous if left outside and unattended. 

Proving liability in an attractive nuisance case

Proving that a property owner should be held liable for having an accessible attractive nuisance generally requires demonstrating the following:

  • There was a potentially dangerous condition.
  • The property owner knew or should have known it could attract children and could harm them.
  • The condition was either created or maintained by the property owner.

Every situation is somewhat unique based on the child’s age, the attractive nuisance and how the child accessed it. That’s why if your child suffered harm, it’s best to seek legal guidance to give you the best chance of successfully seeking justice and compensation.