The “attractive nuisance” doctrine states that property owners may be held liable for injuries to children trespassing on the land if the injury is caused by a hazardous object or condition found on the premises that is likely to attract kids.
So if property owners have items which both draw children in and threaten them with harm, they have a special responsibility to take steps to protect the children who may enter their property.
The attractive nuisance doctrine consists of three components:
- Children are not expected to fully comprehend the hazards they may encounter on someone else’s property.
- If a property owner has reason to believe that children might enter the premises, the law places special responsibility on them to prevent harm.
- If a property owner fails to adhere to this responsibility, they will potentially be held liable for the child’s injuries.
An attractive nuisance is something that is so compelling and interesting enough to entice a kid into entering another person’s property. In Tennessee, the court requires that the object not be a natural condition, but man-made instead.
The following are some common attractive nuisances:
- Swimming pools
- Man-made fountains, lakes, and ponds
- Discarded appliances
- Abandoned motor vehicles
- Holes in the ground
In order to exercise reasonable care, property owners need to assess all of the property’s artificial conditions which could likely pose a threat to children, determine if children are likely to trespass, and then take steps to either eliminate the hazardous condition or ensure that children trespassers will not come into contact with the condition, typically by restricting access.