Summer means free time and exploration for kids. That can be a dangerous combination. No matter how much you may caution your child not to go onto someone else’s property without permission, some things are just too inviting to pass up.
That’s where the attractive nuisance doctrine comes in. Every state – including Indiana – has had some version of it for decades. It’s based on the idea that certain things are going to tempt a child – whether it’s a swimming pool behind an unlocked gate at someone’s home or a large sculpture in front of an office building.
Under the attractive nuisance doctrine, a property owner can be held liable for any harm suffered by a child even if they were not invited onto the property and were technically trespassing.
There are a wide variety of attractive nuisances
Any number of things can be deemed attractive nuisances. Swimming pools are a common example. So are trampolines, tree houses, swing sets and other play equipment.
However, they can also include – besides sculptures, as mentioned above – fountains, koi ponds, ladders, lawn care equipment, discarded appliances and toxic products left unattended. Animals of all kinds – including dogs – can fall under this category.
Property owners’ responsibility
Owners of both residential and commercial property have a responsibility to eliminate attractive nuisances or at least ensure that they can’t be accessed. This can often be accomplished through high walls and fences with locked gates.
If your child was injured by an attractive nuisance on someone else’s property – even if they didn’t have permission to be there – don’t let the property owner or insurer tell you they have no responsibility. It’s wise to seek legal guidance to help you seek compensation and justice.