Curiosity is normal in young children. They are new to this world and want to know about it and experience it. Most Georgia parents have to remind their children to look with their eyes and not with their hands since kids tend to engage all of their senses when experiencing something for the first time.
That curiosity may be endearing and even encouraged by many parents. However, when your child wanders onto someone else’s property and suffers serious injuries, you may wonder whether you have any legal repercussions against the property owner for the financial losses and other damages you and your child suffered.
Enter the ‘attractive nuisance’ doctrine
Because children’s minds are not yet fully developed, they tend not to understand the dangers around them. For this reason, parents teach their children to look both ways before crossing a street and not to approach a dog they don’t know. Sometimes, though, a parent won’t be able to stop a child from giving into his or her compulsion to investigate something they find attractive.
Because of this, the law puts an extra responsibility on property owners when it comes to children. The following three elements comprise the “attractive nuisance” doctrine:
- Children don’t always understand all of the dangers they face.
- Property owners who believe children may come onto their property should take steps to keep them from harm.
- Property owners who fail to do so could face legal liability in the event of an injury to a child.
The first one and the last one are fairly easy to understand, but what about element number two? Should property owners childproof their property even if they don’t have children? Not necessarily, but if something on the property would attract a curious child, steps should be taken to prevent access to it.
What types of things are considered attractive nuisances?
Any number of things could fit the bill, but some of the most common include the following:
- An unfenced swimming pool can be a particularly attractive draw for children.
- Wells and tunnels provide hiding places and imaginative adventures.
- Paths and stairs may lead to unknown and unexpected treasures to a child.
- The lure of animals can be irresistible for children.
Property owners who have to shoo kids away from their property due to these or other attractions may now have a duty to keep children safe from them. Signage may not be enough to release the owner of the property from liability. Of course, the law generally only protects young children since older children, such as teenagers, should know better by then.
If your circumstances and evidence show that your child suffered injuries due to an attractive nuisance on someone’s property, you may be able to seek compensation to help with the medical costs and other damages caused, even if your child was technically trespassing.