What is an attractive nuisance?

On Behalf of | Jun 16, 2024 | Personal injury |

If an adult is knowingly trespassing on someone’s property and gets injured, they’re likely not going to be able to sue the property owner for damages, even if there was an unsafe condition on the property. There’s generally more leeway, however, for children and even younger teens. 

Kids’ brains are not fully formed. Therefore, even if they understand that they’re on someone else’s property without permission, they may not be able to resist the temptation of something on the property. That’s particularly true when it’s what’s considered an “attractive nuisance.”

An attractive nuisance can be anything from a swimming pool or trampoline to a particularly unique (and climbable) lawn sculpture. Pets and other animals can be considered attractive nuisances. So can old appliances stored in an open garage. Even things like toxic materials and woodworking equipment left outside and unwatched can qualify.

Considerations for property owner liability

When a child is harmed by an attractive nuisance, the property owner can potentially be held liable. Each situation is unique. Liability will depend on things like the following:

  • Was the attractive nuisance a maintained feature (like a koi pond or waterfall) or a non-maintained one like a pond that happened to be on someone’s land?
  • Are there laws regarding keeping people away from the feature? For example, Connecticut, like other states, has strict regulations for building, maintaining and fencing in residential swimming pools.
  • Could the property owner reasonably assume that a child could access and be harmed by something on their property?

It’s crucial to teach children not to go onto other people’s property unless they’re invited by someone they know and trust. However, children too often ignore or forget parents’ warnings if something is too tempting to resist or if peer pressure is involved. If your child has been harmed by what you believe was an attractive nuisance on someone else’s property, it’s smart to get legal guidance to determine the best path forward.