Smiley & Smiley, LLP

Applying the attractive nuisance doctrine to a liability case

As your kids seek out new activities to enjoy during the summer in New York City, they may encounter potential dangers that they do not immediately pick up on. Many of our past clients here at Smiley and Smiley, LLP have come to us after their children were injured or killed while playing in areas or on structures they did not recognize to be hazardous. If a similar scenario has played out with one of your children, you may justly question whether or not any legal recourse is available to you.

Common dangers that kids often encounter at play include abandoned buildings, worksites, swimming pools, and rivers or ponds. When children choose to play in such areas without the permission of the property owners, it is often assumed that those owners cannot be held responsible for anything that may happen because the kids were technically trespassing. However, that is not always the case.

The Legal Information Institute defines the attractive nuisance doctrine as a legal principle which allows liability to be assigned to property owners if a hazardous object or condition exists on their property that might attract young children. The reason behind this doctrine is that, as was stated earlier, children may not perceive the risks that such hazards pose. Thus, property owners are obligated to protect kids from them.

To apply the attractive nuisance doctrine to a case, you typically must show that a property did not take action to protect children from the hazards on their land. Signs indicating the potential for danger may not be enough. Typically, a physical barrier preventing access to a hazardous area must be in place in order to absolve a property owner of liability.

More information on this and other factors determining premises liability can be found here on our site. 

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