What is the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine?
Premises liability claims allow the victims of property owner negligence to recover compensation for their injury damages. In these cases, the plaintiff’s role in their harm is often considered — it is possible for an injury victim to be partially liable if they were negligent themselves. However, the concept of an injury victim’s partial liability is commonly disregarded if the injury victim is a child.
Children are protected under the attractive nuisance doctrine, a legal consideration that acknowledges the lower level of responsibility that children have in maintaining their own safety.
What is an Attractive Nuisance?
The term “attractive nuisance” includes any item which can reasonably be expected to be of interest to a child, and potentially cause harm. For example, a homeowner who lives near families with small children can expect that one of those children may wander into their pool if it is not fenced. Property owners are legally required to maintain a certain level of safety in general, but must implement extra precautions if an attractive nuisance is present at their home or business.
Attractive nuisances may include:
- Swimming pools
- Stairs, elevators, and escalators
- Vehicles and equipment
Liability for Child Injuries
The attractive nuisance doctrine attributes liability to property owners in almost every case of child injury. Whereas standard premises liability law does state that an adult could be liable for their own injuries (especially in cases of trespassing), the attractive nuisance doctrine acknowledges that blame cannot be put on children. Kids are not as aware of their surroundings and may not know that a property is dangerous. Additionally, it is not considered trespassing if the “trespasser” is a child.
A property owner could potentially avoid full liability if there is evidence that the negligence of the child’s parents contributed to their injuries. In these cases, the parents could be partially liable and may have their compensation reduced or their claim denied as a result.
Attractive Nuisance Laws in Texas
The attractive nuisance doctrine is a legal statute that exists in essentially the same form across the United States. Most jurisdictions accept the principle that property owners are liable if a hazard presented a predictable risk to children.
Texas law operates under this same idea, but also define specific parameters for the attractive nuisance doctrine. In Texas, it must be established that the home or business owner was aware of the risk to children on their property, that they failed to alleviate that risk, and that the child was not cognizant of the risk.
The Law Offices of Vic Feazell, P.C. represents people who have been injured because of a property owner’s negligence. We also specifically practice in the area of child injury litigation.
If you are interested in scheduling a free consultation with our attorneys, complete our contact form or call (512) 271-5278.