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What is an attractive nuisance?

Your worst nightmare as a parent may be to have your child ignore your warnings about avoiding dangerous situations and suffering a serious injury or even death because of it. Yet how can you blame them; they are kids, after all, and they lack the knowledge and experience to discern what might be dangerous and what is not. A swimming pool, a drainage canal or an abandoned building may seem to them to be exciting attractions, when you know that they can potentially cause serious injuries if kids are allowed to play in such areas unsupervised. 

The aforementioned attractions are known legally as “attractive nuisances.” The term is applied to them due to the dangers that they pose while also recognizing that they may attract unsuspecting children. The concept of the attractive nuisance was first applied to railroad turntables. Kids would enter rail yards to play, only to be injured on the turntables. This lead to the creation of “the turntable doctrine.” As more attractions were recognized as posing dangers to kids, the concept evolved into “the attractive nuisance doctrine.” 

According to the Cornell Law School, the attractive nuisance doctrine allows you to assign liability to a property owner if their property contains an attractive nuisance and said property owners did not take steps to ensure children were protected from it. This doctrine allows for the fact the young children cannot appreciate certain dangers, and thus places the onus on property owners to protect them from it. The responsibility placed on property owners to keep kids from accessing their properties’ attractive nuisances even extends to situations where your child may have been on a property without the owner’s permission. 

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