Like all parents, you look out for your child’s interests. While you likely trust yourself to keep your son or daughter safe, you may not put much faith in your neighbors. Unfortunately, if those who live near you have trampolines, swimming pools and other attractive nuisances, your child may not be able to resist some fun.
New Jersey follows the attractive nuisance doctrine. In general terms, this doctrine holds property owners responsible for the injuries their attractive nuisances cause. If your son or daughter has sustained an injury on another person’s property, understanding the attractive nuisance doctrine may be essential for pursuing reasonable compensation from the property owner.
While the term “attractive nuisance” may seem archaic and technical, it is easy to understand. Put simply, an attractive nuisance is something that is both appealing to children and hazardous to their safety. Even though essentially any property condition may be an attractive nuisance, pools, playground equipment, certain animals and landscape features may qualify.
If an attractive nuisance exists on a piece of property, the property owner may have a legal duty to protect trespassing children from harm. For example, if a person owns a swimming pool, New Jersey law requires the owner to erect a fence around the water. If the property owner fails to take reasonable steps, he or she may be liable for any injuries that a child suffers.
To determine if a property owner is legally responsible for a child’s injuries, you must carefully consider both facts and law. Establishing liability under the attractive nuisance doctrine usually requires proving the following elements:
- An attractive nuisance was present
- The child did not understand the danger
- The property owner knew a child may trespass
- The property owner did not take steps to minimize injury
Like all parents, you worry about the health and well-being of your son or daughter. Of course, if your child sustains an injury on someone else’s property, life may never be the same again. Fortunately, whether using the attractive nuisance doctrine or another legal theory, you may be able to seek reasonable compensation from the responsible property owner.