Children are, by nature, curious about the world around them. If something looks inviting, interesting, or fun in any capacity, children are likely to gravitate towards it. While engaging in these activities is an excellent way to learn, it can also be dangerous.
Not every place or attraction that looks interesting is actually safe for a child. When something dangerous is also exceptionally appealing to a child, it is often considered an attractive nuisance.
Property owners in Gulfport must exercise caution if they have an attractive nuisance. When a property owner fails to adequately secure an attractive nuisance and a minor is hurt as a result, parents can potentially recover compensation for their child’s injuries.
The Attractive Nuisance Doctrine
In Mississippi, an attractive nuisance is something on a property that simultaneously draws children’s attention while also threatening harm. This is similar to premises liability, which is when an owner either causes a dangerous condition or allows one to exist on their property.
What makes an attractive nuisance different from the typical premises liability issue is the added emphasis on protecting children. There are three components of the attractive nuisance doctrine:
- Children are not expected to fully understand potential dangers associated with some things.
- Property owners have a special responsibility to prevent harm if they expect children might come onto their property.
- Property owners who avoid this responsibility can be held liable if a child is injured as a result.
It does not matter whether a child was invited onto a property or if they were technically trespassing. One of the main dangers associated with attractive nuisances is right there in the name—they are attractive to children. A child who does not have fully developed reasoning skills cannot properly weigh the potential dangers.
In a child’s mind, something that looks fun is simply something new to explore. The idea of property lines and trespassing is not something that occurs to the average child. Going back to that added layer of responsibility, property owners are charged with preventing harm even to children who trespass.
The Most Common Types of Attractive Nuisances
An item is not necessarily an attractive nuisance just because it might look fun to a child. To be considered an attractive nuisance in the eyes of the law, the following conditions must be met:
- There must be a potentially dangerous condition on a property.
- The owner either maintained or created the condition.
- The owner should have known that the condition would attract children.
- The owner should have known that the condition could potentially harm children.
You might be surprised how many conditions, objects, or property features are attractive nuisances. Here are some of the most common examples of attractive nuisances:
- Play structures
- Tree houses
- Yard tools like lawn mowers and weed whackers
- Dangerous domesticated animals
- Broken gates
There are also less obvious examples of attractive nuisances. For example, your roof could even be considered an attractive nuisance in the right situation. If it was well known that children in your area like to climb on roofs and your roof is easily accessible, you could be liable for any injuries if you did not try to keep the minors away.
Limiting access to an attractive nuisance is often easier than property owners realize. Fencing off pools, trampolines, and play structures is a great place to start. Adding gates with locks is an excellent addition that can keep children at a distance. It is also a good idea to keep all yard tools locked in a shed or garage.
If there is a dangerous domestic animal on the property, owners should be certain that they are safely and properly secured at all times. This may include keeping pets in a separate, secure area when children visit. Owners can also post signs on gates or the front door warning potential visitors that an unfriendly animal lives on the property.
Non-Maintained Attractive Nuisances and Apparent Dangers
There are situations in which a property owner might not be liable for a child’s injuries on their property. Although every case is different, courts generally only consider property owners liable for nuisances that are man-made or that are maintained through effort.
You might not be able to find an owner liable if your child was injured in any of the following non-maintained items or situations, although a Gulfport personal injury lawyer could better advise you of your options:
- Lakes or ponds
- Cliff edges
- Small choking hazards, such as pebbles or acorns
- Carbon monoxide poisoning when a working detector was present
- Smoke inhalation when a working smoke alarm was present
- Trees with low hanging branches ideal for climbing
Anything that is an apparent danger is not considered an attractive nuisance, either. A key factor in the attractive nuisance doctrine is that a child might not understand associated dangers. It is hard for a child to understand how a trampoline that is designed to be played on might actually be quite dangerous. However, children can more easily recognize apparent dangers like:
- Sharp objects
- Wild animals
- Clearly labeled poison
Children who are too young to understand the risks associated with these types of apparent dangers should always be supervised by a parent, guardian, or other responsible adult. Whoever is in charge of the child’s care is also responsible for limiting their access to such dangers, which includes keeping them away from other people’s properties where these risks might be present.
What Happens After an Attractive Nuisance Accident?
Childhood injuries can have long-term impacts. Even when healed, broken bones, lacerations, and bruises can burden a small child with lasting emotional trauma. Other injuries, such as head injuries or limb loss, are not so easily treated either and can permanently impact a child’s ability to function.
As a parent, it is up to you to take legal action for an attractive nuisance accident on behalf of your child. These types of cases fall under the umbrella of personal injury claims, and you may need help calculating how much compensation they deserve.
At Corban Gunn, Attorney at Law, we have extensive experience valuing the worth of your claim, including collecting information about medical bills, pain and suffering, and any financial limitations on your child’s future.
When you choose to work with a Gulfport personal injury lawyer, you will have someone on your side who will negotiate with the insurance company, advocate for your child’s best interests, and work tirelessly to secure the best possible resolution.
If your child was injured because of an attractive nuisance, do not wait to get help. Contact us today for an opportunity to discuss the potential merits of your case.