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What is the attractive nuisance doctrine?

On behalf of Goldstein Goldstein

The concept of an attractive nuisance has been touched upon this blog in the past, yet like many in East Orange, you may still not fully understand how it applies to a personal injury case. As an adult, no matter how tempting a particular artificial condition may be, you may understand the need to avoid it (in certain scenarios) in order to be safe from the dangers that it poses. Yet what about your kids? They may simply see it as a source of fun and excitement, neither of which they typically equate with danger. That is the reason for the attractive nuisance doctrine.

Per the Cornell Law School, the attractive nuisance doctrine assigns liability to owners of properties on which potentially dangerous artificial attractions are found if such attractions injure small children. The reasoning behind this doctrine is that your kids do not often comprehend the dangers that an attraction may present. Thus, the responsibility lies with property owners to protect them from it.

The attractive nuisance doctrine was initially referred to as “the turntable doctrine” in that railroad turntables were the first legally recognized attractive nuisance. Children would often play on them not realizing how easily they could be seriously injured if and when they moved. Over the years, the definition of attractive nuisances has expanded to encompass artificial features such as:

  • Swimming pools
  • Canals
  • Construction sites
  • Junkyards

The owner of the property on which your child was injured may be held liable even if your child was there without permission. The only way they could absolve themselves of liability under this legal doctrine was to take steps necessary to restrict your kids’ access to the attractive nuisance on their land.

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