In a court of law, children are not deemed responsible for their own actions. Young children do not have the respect and caution for potentially dangerous or hazardous materials that older children and adults have. With this being said, it is everyone’s duty to protect young children from potentially hazardous situations that can be easily avoided. This duty is outlined in the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine. This article explores the question, what is the attractive nuisance doctrine?
What Is the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine?
The attractive nuisance doctrine was created to protect children who are unable to understand the risks involved with certain objects or conditions, specifically in a household setting. These objects are defined as things that are attractive to curious children, such as something shiny like a yard tool or a pool. It is the duty of the homeowner to keep these materials out of a child’s reach or ability to get to them on their own. For example, it is a pool owner’s responsibility to have a fence around their pool.
What Makes the Defendant Breach this Duty?
A defendant may be found guilty of breaching this duty and causing injury to the child if the accident happened due to any of the following circumstances:
- The object or the condition itself had a high risk of causing an injury to any person coming into contact with it. This could be broken stairs or a sharp tool in the yard.
- The object or condition was enticing to young children.
- The plaintiff or victim is unable, due to his or her age, to comprehend the danger involved with the condition or object.
- The object or condition was left exposed or in a place where a young child may easily get to.
- The object or condition was located in an area where the child would normally be found.
- The accident could have been reasonably avoided had the object or condition been contained to prevent access to it by the child. *This condition was later modified to include without obstructing any reasonable purpose or use for which the object or condition was intended. For example, adding a fence around a pool would fall under this category, as the fence does not hinder the use of the pool but provides safety for children from wandering in.
What About Cases of Trespassing?
Young children are unable to comprehend the dangers of wandering into another person’s yard or property. This means that homeowners and landowners owe an additional duty of care to avoid leaving out objects or conditions that would fall under ordinary negligence. This law still pertains to children trespassers as they are unable to protect themselves against danger or risk involved in going near an object or condition. This is because they are immature and lack proper judgment.
Under What Circumstances Does this Doctrine Apply?
The attractive nuisance doctrine applies in circumstances where it is anticipated for children to be at. This includes residential neighborhoods, school zones, public places such as parks, and airports. Safety precautions, such as adding a fence around a pool, is expected of homeowners. Any safety materials added, though, should not place a heavy or unbearable burden on the homeowner or landowners nor should it restrict their usage of their land or property.
This doctrine does not apply under the following circumstances;
- The doctrine would impose an unbearable burden on the homeowner or landowner.
- The use of land is dangerous only to trespassers, such as a government testing facility, and the court is unwilling to impose a restraint on the use of the land.
- It does not fall under the ordinary rules of negligence.
If your child has been hurt due to the negligence of another homeowner, you may be entitled to compensation for medical costs and damages. Hernandez Law Group, P.C. can help you claim the compensation you deserve and set you and your family on the road of recovery. Juan Hernandez is one of the 2% of personal injury attorneys in the State of Texas to be Texas Board Certified. Contact Hernandez Law Group, P.C. for a consultation.