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What is an attractive nuisance?

An attractive nuisance is something that draws the curiosity and attention of a child but can present a danger or harm to them.

When it comes to the law there are some known attractive nuisances. These can be items on private or public property and can even include company vehicles. Attractive nuisances are typically man-made, so lakes and trees do not qualify. Some common attractive nuisances include:

  • Swimming pools and fountains: They are a drowning hazard
  • Ice cream trucks: Children run out to them without looking for cars
  • Machinery and farm equipment: Children climb on them
  • Wells and tunnels
  • Dangerous animals
  • Play equipment
  • An accessible rooftop or climbable building

An owner's responsibility

The person or company who owns an attractive nuisance is responsible for knowing the risk these attractions involve and taking responsibility for protecting children and others from harm.

For example, if your neighbor decides to build an in-ground swimming pool in his yard he will also need to put up a tall fence. This is to make it more difficult for babies and young children to wander into his yard and fall into the pool. If he merely posts signs that say "no trespassing" this is not enough to stop curious children. Typically children under about eight year of age (depending on the state) cannot be held responsible for trespassing or "negligent" behavior. This is why a tall fence is often a required barrier (often by the municipality) to keep unsupervised children from entering a neighborhood pool.

Likewise, if your neighbor decides to get a large dog, it is in their best interest to put up a fence.

Ice cream trucks

Ice cream trucks present a potentially dangerous hazard to children. They play enticing music and offer sweet, cold treats. Children are often too young or so overwhelmed by the desire for ice cream that they do not look before running to or from an ice cream truck. Depending on which side of the street the truck pulls over on and the flow of traffic, there may not be a protective arm to stop traffic. However, to have a case of wrongful death or injury (also known as actionable negligence) there must be "legal duty."

The role of insurance

When a person, such as a homeowner, or a company, such as an ice cream truck vendor, owns or operates a known attractive nuisance they must take precautionary measures and have appropriate insurance coverage in the event that someone does get hurt. Most pools, for example, are covered under the "other structures" portion of a homeowner's insurance policy. If you, your child or someone you care about was injured because an owner or company was negligent then a personal injury attorney can offer advice on your next best steps.

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