In New York, the law recognizes the fact that children may not understand all the dangers they face as the natural process of growing up makes them explore enticing areas — even if it they are on someone else’s property. For this reason, property owners have a duty under the attractive nuisance doctrine, making them responsible for protecting potential young explorers from harm. Disregarding this responsibility might lead to a premises liability lawsuit.
Children of almost all ages will recognize some dangers such as those posed by fires or heights like rooftops. However, swimming pools, tunnels and wells, interesting stairs and walkways, animals and machinery like gasoline pumps and lawn mowers could constitute attractive nuisances. Anything that might draw the attention of a child’s inquiring mind must be fenced in or locked up to avoid access. Signs may warn teenagers, but small children who cannot read yet will not be put off by warning signs.
Potential attractive nuisances are typically human-made areas that are maintained by the property owner. For this reason, natural ponds, lakes and water streams are generally not included in the list of areas that must be secured. There is no age restriction to this doctrine, and teenagers who are enticed by something on another person’s property, and then suffer injuries, are still children, and the property owner might be held liable.
Parents in New York whose child was injured by something that qualifies as an attractive nuisance on someone else’s property may be entitled to pursue financial relief through the civil justice system. This is a complicated area of the law, and it makes sense to rely on legal counsel. An experienced premises liability attorney can assess the circumstances that led to the injuries to determine the viability of a claim. If there are grounds for a lawsuit, the lawyer can assist throughout ensuing legal proceedings.