Everyone knows that children are curious about the world around them. We also all know that young children are not able to make sound and logical decisions about what is safe and what is not. Finally, society agrees that the community around young children is also responsible for their welfare. One of the ways the law helps keep children safe is through the attractive nuisance doctrine.
What Is An Attractive Nuisance?
Simply put, an attractive nuisance is an object or condition on a property that would interest children. The typical example that is cited is a swimming pool, but the description could also include a pond, a tree house or a trampoline, among others.
Ordinarily, if the child came onto the property uninvited and was injured, they would be afforded the same duty of care that is owed to a trespasser. In Florida, typically that duty of care amounts to not intentionally injuring trespassers unless through self-defense. However, because of society’s belief that children need to be protected by the community, the attractive nuisance doctrine was created.
Attractive Nuisance Doctrine
The attractive nuisance doctrine holds that if you have an attractive nuisance on your property, you have to take additional steps to safeguard the welfare of the children around the property and protect them from the dangers the nuisance might present to them. In other words, the property owner has an obligation to prevent the presence of the attractive nuisance luring children to come into harm’s way.
Examples of additional protective measures that are sometimes required include:
- Adequate pool fencing to prevent unauthorized ingress and egress;
- Automatic closing fence gates in the pool fence;
- Automatic closing patio doors if the door in question opens onto the pool or provides access to the pool area;
- Gate alarms to indicate when a pool gate has been opened;
- No trespassing signs;
- Permanently installed restraints on trampolines; and
- Removable ladders to prevent access to tree houses.
Restrictions and requirements can vary by jurisdiction while some are mandated by state law and building codes. For example, Florida has enacted the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act that mandates the requirements for proper pool fence construction, including materials, setbacks and dimensions. Further, many requirements are imposed by the terms and conditions of the property owner’s insurance policy.
Even with the multiple requirements and restrictions in place, attractive nuisances still have the potential to cause devastating harm to children. Moreover, if these requirements are not followed, the potential for harm is even greater.
There are many elements that must be considered in proving a case under the attractive nuisance doctrine. If your child has suffered an injury because of an attractive nuisance, it may be because the property owner did not meet the duty of care that they owed your child. This is a determination that must be made by careful analysis of the particular facts of your situation. If your child has been injured in the Tallahassee area by what you believe to be an attractive nuisance, reach out to the experienced personal injury attorneys at Fasig & Brooks by calling (850) 222-3232. We are prepared to help you recover the compensation that you deserve.