Protecting Your Property: Safeguard Against Common Attractive Nuisances

One of the most common lawsuits that occur for owners of private property is that of injury to a child due an attractive nuisance. You can protect yourself from personal injury lawsuits by learning which attractive nuisances are most common, and what you can do to make sure they don't become a problem for you. Also, make sure that you have personal injury attorney on retainer.

What is an attractive nuisance?

Usually, you are not liable when someone trespasses on your property. However, children, who may not yet have full development of mature decision making, may trespass onto your property and injure themselves if there is something on your property that lures them there. These things are usually fun, colorful, or intriguing-- so much so, that children will climb the fence in order to explore them more fully.

The court will maintain the position that as a homeowner, you should anticipate these attractive nuisances and take reasonable measures to protect children form injury by posting warnings and carrying out safety precautions.

What are some common attractive nuisances?

1. Swimming Pools

Nothing looks more inviting to kids of any age than a large, open pool of water. However, if your pool does not have a fence around it, or is not properly covered up while not in use, you could be responsible for any injuries to children that come as a result--even if they weren't invited onto the property to begin with. In one case, Gregory v. Johnson, the owners of the pool that caused the drowning of a two-year-old boy were charged with wrongful death due to owner negligence. 

Drowning is not the only risk. Children can lose limbs to drains or pumps that aren't covered, or suffer from permanent brain injuries because of falling and hitting their head on the pool deck or bottom. In fact, for every one child that drowns, there are four more children who must visit the hospital for traumatic injuries. Unless your pool is properly outfitted for safe swimming and for keeping kids out, you will be responsible for any of these injuries if the family decides to sue. 

2. Animals

If you have dogs, cats, horses, or other friendly-looking animals, some children will be drawn to your property. Although it can be more difficult to peg injuries down when animals are involved, you will be held at least partially responsible for injuries if you:

  • do not have a fenced yard. Outdoor pets, especially dogs and horses, should always be contained within property limits. This also help deter children from entering. You can make it even harder for small children to enter a paddock by reinforcing the fence with rabbit fencing along the bottom. 
  • do not have a "beware of dog" sign. Not all children can read, but if you have clearly visible signage, it shows that you, as a homeowner, understand the risk of owning a pet, and did your part to warn the neighborhood to be on their guard.
  • are responsible for aggressive behavior. Neglecting to feed an animal, or keeping it chained up, can bring out aggression. Courts will hold you responsible for injuries if the you, as the owner, were not diligent in training. 

3. Cars And Machines

Children love to climb in, on, and around machines. If they manage to turn it on, drive it, or even just move it, and any of these actions result in injury or fatality, you will be guilty of negligence. If you have old cars, tractors, or farm machinery:

  • always turn the engine off and take the keys when you are not using it, even if you just have to go inside to grab some water or a tool. It only takes a few seconds for the unthinkable to occur.
  • store the extra autos in a shed, fenced area, barn, or garage. This is especially important for tractors or cars that cannot be fully locked.
  • remove all attachments before leaving the machine alone. For tractors, remove the forks, skids, or buckets. For cars, make sure the top is up and the lights are off.
  • lock the doors and put blocks behind the tires. Then, even if a child does decide it's time to play, there is a fail safe to keep the car from rolling anywhere.