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What is an Attractive Nuisance?
Premises Liability Attorney Explains Legal Duties Owed To Children
Under Georgia premises liability law, property owners have a duty to keep their buildings and land safe for guests and visitors. Typically, this duty does not extend to trespassers who enter the property without the owner’s permission. However, there are special exceptions for trespassers who are children. This is because they are not expected to behave in the same reasonable manner as adults. Under the attractive nuisance doctrine, property owners can sometimes be held liable for a child trespasser’s injuries in a premises liability lawsuit.
The attractive nuisance doctrine in Georgia law is vague. Therefore, it subject to interpretation, which can become quite complex in a personal injury claim. An experienced premises liability attorney like Kathy McArthur can help you fight for your rights in a child injury claim. We have a history of successful verdicts and settlements in premises liability cases, and we can put that experience to work for you.
What is the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine?
The attractive nuisance doctrine is an exception in Georgia premises liability law that specifically applies to child trespassers. Children, especially young children, do not have the ability to identify potential dangers in the same way as adults. For example, an adult passing a swimming pool should know that falling into the water could be dangerous. Additionally, an adult would likely be able to swim, reducing the risk of serious swimming pool injuries if he or she did happen to fall in.
However, to a child, an unattended swimming pool is an interesting curiosity, or an “attractive nuisance,” rather than a hazard. As a result, a child may wander onto private property and into the pool, possibly sustaining serious injuries or even drowning.
Due to these risks, property owners must take reasonable action to eliminate attractive nuisances or make them inaccessible to children. For example, swimming pool owners must put adequate fencing around the pool to keep child trespassers safe. Other potential attractive nuisances include abandoned cars, refrigerators, farm machinery and other equipment. Additionally, swing sets, wells, stairways and even mounds of dirt and animals can all be attractive nuisances. Construction sites, power stations and train yards must also have fencing and other precautions to protect wandering children.
What Do I Have to Prove in an Attractive Nuisance Premises Liability Lawsuit?
Many parts of the attractive nuisance doctrine are open to interpretation. However, in general, for this kind of premises liability lawsuit, you and your attorney must prove:
- An existing condition, object or installation on the owner’s property was significantly dangerous.
- This hazard was attractive or interesting to a child.
- The child in question was incapable of understanding the danger posed by the hazard.
- This hazardous condition existed in an area frequented by children, meaning that the property owner should understand that a child might have access to his or her property.
- The property owner knew or should reasonably have known about the danger, but did not address it or take reasonable precautions.
Many of these points may be difficult to prove definitively. For example, depending on the age of the child who sustained injury, the court may decide that he or she should have understood the dangers of the potential hazard.
Additionally, it is not always clear whether a property owner’s actions qualify as “reasonable precautions.” For example, an owner might put up fencing around a pool. However, if your child manages to climb over the fence and sustains serious swimming pool injuries, your premises liability attorney may be able to prove that the fencing was not an adequate safety precaution.
Child Hurt on Someone Else’s Property? Call Our Premises Liability Attorney
If you have questions about attractive nuisances, ask the attorneys at the McArthur Law Firm. We can represent your child’s interests in a premises liability lawsuit and get the compensation your family deserves.
We offer legal representation statewide from our offices in Macon and Atlanta. In the past, our clients have included residents of Atlanta, Albany and Columbus as well as Savannah and Augusta. Call 478-238-1150 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation with a premises liability attorney.