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Normally, property owners or tenants can't be held liable for injuries to people who had been trespassing on their land. But when those people are children, and the trespass happened because the children had been attracted to a dangerous man-made feature on the land, those owners or tenants can be held responsible under the 'attractive nuisance' doctrine. 

Say, for example, you had a swimming pool. If you were aware that neighbor kids were interested in your pool, and one of those kids got hurt or injured in your pool while you were away from the house, you could still be held responsible in a personal injury or wrongful death law suit. 

The 'attractive nuisance' doctrine recognizes that children don't always understand when they might be in danger, and therefore places responsibility for preventing potential harm in the laps of property owners or tenants. Natural features -- such as a cliff, tree, or pond -- can't be considered an 'attractive nuisance,' however. The hazard has to be man-made to be considered an attractive nuisance. Common examples would include:

  • Swimming pools
  • Fountains
  • Wells
  • Machinery

Posting a warning sign is not enough to protect a person from liability, if such a hazard exists on a property. Property owners or tenants have to take concrete steps like putting up a locked fence that will prevent children from accessing the danger in the first place. 

If your child was injured because of a neighbor's failure to secure a dangerous condition, contact a premises liability attorney for more information. 

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