What are attractive nuisances? It’s usually used in reference to property owners who maintain items or objects on their premises that have the potential to “attract” or lure interested parties who, unfortunately, suffer harm or injury as a result of contact with the item. Some owners view their property as sacred ground and believe any trespasser injured within its perimeter got what they deserved; unfortunately, the courts take a more objective stance, citing the principle of “Premises Liability” law, which states that a property owner has a legal obligation to make his property reasonably safe for invitees, licensees, and trespassers. It’s easy for owners to forget their responsibilities – that’s why the law offices of Jacoby & Meyers offer the following advice.
Private Property that Poses a Hazard or Dangerous Condition
How many times have you driven down a cul-de-sac and seen a rusty old jalopy wasting away in someone’s driveway, or worse still, resting on a lawn! The eyesore is painful enough, but then you notice the homeowner has conveniently left engine parts, crankshafts, batteries and other blunt items around the vehicle as well. The problem is, kids like to turn car parts into laser blasters, body armor, and time machines. If a child were to suffer an injury while playing with his junk metal, the owner could be faced with a stiff lawsuit on his hands. But don’t think simply moving the items to the backyard is enough. Certain municipalities have strict codes and regulations about what can be maintained on one’s property. To play it safe, keep spare parts locked up, and your vehicle covered from curious eyes. Consult local laws to ensure your compliance.
Sometimes getting rid of old furniture is such a hassle. Isn’t it easier just to leave it on the lawn, and let someone take it off your hands? WRONG! For example, large freezers can be death traps for small children who like to crawl inside and see if they can visit “Narnia.” Think sofas are soft and harmless? Think again. If a child pulls a Cirque Du Soleil, he can bust a spring, and suffer a nasty cut. If you have furniture you want to be rid of, call the Goodwill, or dispose of it in a safe manner. Don’t leave it on your lawn.
It’s summer again. And you don’t really want to deal with the kids on such a hot, sticky day – good thing you bought a “Crocodile Mile with a boomerang bump, that sends kids flying!” Now you can set it up on the front lawn, turn on the sprinklers, and let your little ones play with the neighbors while you enjoy a nice Mai Tai on the side. But what happens when the kids go home? Do you put “Crocodile Mile” away? Or do you, like many people, leave it on the lawn for another day?
If you answered “yes” to the second question, then you could be setting yourself up for a lawsuit. Leaving toys on the lawn is a sure-fire way to attract children; but you should be extra vigilant when it comes to those that require adult supervision. Astro-jumps, slip-and-slides, trampolines – these are all items that should never be left unattended or without safety precautions. Protect the safety of your children and their friends – keep these items off the lawn without an adult present.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of owning a half-pipe, you know how difficult it can be to keep skaters from sneaking into your backyard. Sure, it’s in your backyard, mostly hidden from sight, but in the event of a terrible accident, the law is likely to decide that your half-pipe easily constitutes an “attractive nuisance.” When it comes to large objects such as this, many municipalities have strict building codes. Were a trespasser to suffer an injury, and it was found that you had violated such codes, your chances of defending yourself against a lawsuit are greatly diminished. If you absolutely must be the proud parent of the next Tony Hawk, research local law before building a half-pipe.
Perhaps the most common type of attractive nuisance is the domestic swimming pool. Eager eyes will wait for neighbors to leave just to hop over the fence in the hope of taking a dip. Sometimes, the owner of a pool makes too easy – leaving gates unlocked, or failing to close them. Once again, local law varies on the necessary precautions pool owners must take — that’s why it’s important to play it safe. Lockable covers are a good way to secure your pool when you’re away. Also, be certain that all gates and doors are properly locked; that way, if an accident were to occur, you minimize your liability.
Injuries Resulting from Attractive Nuisances
Perhaps you’re starting to realize that children are especially prone to becoming victims of attractive nuisances. Not surprisingly, youth and inexperience are contributing factors in many injurie. But as a property owner, your responsibility is to ensure that trespassing children are reasonably safe from injury. Chances are, if you eliminate the nuisance, you can eliminate any unwanted tragedies as well.
If you or a loved one were the victim of an attractive nuisance, give our legal experts a call.