The Attractive Nuisance Doctrine

The law of attractive nuisance holds that a property owner may be held liable for injuries suffered by children who trespass on to the landowner's property if the injury is caused by a hazardous object or condition on the person's property that is likely to attract children on to their property and where the child or children that cannot appreciate the serious risks associated with the hazardous object or condition.

In determining the liability of the property owner, courts can look to whether or not the owner knew or should have known: that children could trespass near the hazard; the type of hazard and the risk posed; whether the children could appreciate the risk involved; the importance of the property owner in maintaining the hazard; how difficult it would be to remove the hazard in relation to the risk posed; and whether the landowner took reasonable steps to protect children from the hazard.

Connecticut has not adopted the doctrine of attractive nuisance.  Despite this fact, this does not obviate the need for giving children special consideration as it relates to applying the principles of common law negligence.

In Connecticut, if the owner or possessor of land knows, or should have known, that a situation exists that is likely to attract children, then that person is bound to anticipate that fact and take precautionary measures and exercise reasonable care to avoid causing injury to them. These measures, and the duty of care exercised, must be viewed in light of the fact that children do not, in many instances, understand appreciate the dangers that an adult might otherwise comprehend.

Examples of attractive nuisances could include: swimming pools; trampolines; construction debris; abandoned appliances and motor vehicles; and exotic or dangerous animals.

In addition to special duties owed to children, it is important to understand that property owners have a duty to properly inspect and maintain their property in a reasonable and safe condition and to warn or protect others from dangerous conditions, which they know of or should have known of, regardless of their age. If possessors  and/or owner fail to properly inspect their property to discover a situation that might attract children on to their property or creates a dangerous situation then they may be liable for the damages and injuries incurred by children or a third party adult.

Examples of dangerous conditions which could result in liability, for children or adults, might include:

  • Standing, pooling or dripping water on a surface
  • Ice or snow
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Defective cracked or chipped flooring
  • Improperly secured floor coverings
  • Stairs, steps, or handrails that are dangerous and/or defective
  • Hidden or concealed hazardous
  • Slippery substances on surfaces
  • Mechanical malfunctions
  • Failure to repair broken or defective items
  • Dangerous or defective playing fields
  • Rusted, broken, or damaged playground equipment

If a property owner and/or possessor of land fails to properly maintain, inspect, repair, replace or warn others of a hazard, which they know of or should have known of, then the injured party or parent of an injured child could make a claim against the negligent property owner and/or possessor.

Richard P. Hastings is a Connecticut personal injury lawyer at Hastings, Cohan & Walsh, LLP with offices throughout the state.  A graduate of Fordham Law School, he has been named a Connecticut Super Lawyer, 2010-2013, Personal Injury- Plaintiff and is the author of the books: "The Crash Course on Child Injury Claims"; "The Crash Course on Personal Injury Claims in Connecticut" and "The Crash Course on Motorcycle Accidents."  He has also co-authored the best selling book "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing- What Your Insurance Company Doesn't Want You to Know and Won't Tell You Until It's Too Late!" He can be contacted at 888-244-5480. Call us today for a free consolation.