Because of their impulsivity and innate curiosity, children are naturally at a higher risk of harm. Pennsylvania’s definition of “attractive nuisance” is any “artificial” (man-made) condition that a property owner knows may attract children and cause them harm.
For example, trampolines, pools, treehouses, discarded washing machines or refrigerators, and abandoned cars, are, simply by their nature, appealing to children who may not comprehend their dangerous nature and get hurt.
Note: The theory does not apply to natural conditions such as pre-existing ponds or trees, even if a child were to come onto a property and get hurt climbing a tree, for example.
Basis for Liability for an Attractive Nuisance
In order to find a property owner liable for an attractive nuisance, there must be evidence that:
- The owner or lessee of the property knew or should have known that the attractive nuisance would attract children onto the property.
- The owner or lessee of the property knew or should have known that the attractive nuisance would likely be dangerous or deadly to children.
- Children harmed by the attractive nuisance must have been too young or inexperienced to recognize the dangerous nature of the attractive nuisance.
- The landowner or property lessee did not take reasonable steps to prevent the access of children to the attractive nuisance by means of a fence, gate, or other security measure.
- The cost of making the attractive nuisance inaccessible is not comparable to the risk posed.
What does a property owner need to know about attractive nuisance law?
To put it at its most basic level, anything non-natural that a property owner has on his property that may be dangerous or deadly to a child creates liability if a child suffers harm from that item. Moreover, a property owner needs to understand that the attractive nuisance doctrine extends liability beyond invitees and would cover a child who trespasses solely to use or explore the item in question.
This does not mean that property owners can never put trampolines or swimming pools in their yards, but rather, that they need to take certain precautions. Whenever practicable, such items should be inaccessible to passersby. The protection of children is a paramount concern.
If a property owner disregarded the attractive nuisance doctrine and an item on his property caused your child harm, speak with a premises liability attorney to explore your options for recovery. Contact Cordisco & Saile LLC at 215-791-8911 today.