Attractive Nuisance Doctrine and Swimming Pools

ELI5: Negligence

If you’ve got a pool in your backyard, you’ve likely got a bunch of fun plans this summer, and they very unlikely include meeting with an attorney, or frantically calling your homeowner’s insurance agent. However, if you don’t take reasonable precautions to keep your pool safe, your summer just may include those activities. So if you’ve got a pool in your backyard, make sure you’re doing what you can to protect yourself from liability.

What Is Premises Liability?

Premises liability refers to the liability a property owner has to remove hazardous conditions from their property or take reasonable precautions to prevent injury from occurring due to hazardous conditions that cannot be removed. This applies to both residential and commercial properties. If you sustain injury on someone else’s property due to the property owner’s negligence, you can file a claim with property owner’s homeowner’s insurance (or commercial property insurance if you’re injured on a commercial property). The aforementioned assumes, however, that you are either a guest or an implied invitee. Premises liability generally does not protect trespassers from injuries they sustain due to the property owner’s negligence. 

What about Trespassing Children?

This is where it gets tricky: small children are almost never considered to be trespassers from a legal standpoint. Since small children aren’t usually considered to be trespassers, premises liability may cover a child’s injuries even if the child wasn’t invited on the property, and had no reason to believe they’d be allowed on the property. Since small children are not normally considered to be trespassers, property owners generally have a higher duty of care when it comes to ensuring the property is safe, even for children who are not expressly invited onto the property. The aforementioned is especially true if you know, or have reason to believe, that children are going onto your property for any reason.If the child is old enough to read and understand “No Trespassing” signs plastered around the property, they are old enough to be deemed to be trespassing, and could be found to have some fault for being somewhere they shouldn’t when something bad happens 

Attractive Nuisance Doctrine

Attractive nuisance doctrine is a concept that more or less states that, since small children are characteristically unable to anticipate the risks of engaging in dangerous activities, property owners have a higher duty of care towards children–especially if the property owner has something on their property that may be attractive to a child. Swimming pools, playground equipment, trampolines, construction projects, land formations, swimming pools, bodies of water, and animals may all be considered to be attractive nuisances. If you have any of these on your property, it’s important that you take reasonable precautions in order to ensure that children do not sustain injury on your property. This could include fencing, signage, and alarms.

“How Can I Liability-Proof My Pool?”

Swimming pools can be particularly attractive to children, particularly small children that are uninvited and unsupervised. However, you can reduce the chances of being liable for a swimming pool accident that occurs on your property by taking reasonable precautions. If you have a pool in your backyard, it’s a good idea to have a fence up. The fence surrounding your pool should not be easily scaled by a child, or short enough for a child to jump over. Ideally this fence would lock, and have self closing hinges. If you’re not using your pool, there should be a pool cover to prevent children from getting into the pool, or accidentally falling in the pool. Many modern pool covers have locks and alarms, which would preclude anyone from accessing the pool without your permission.  All pool toys should also be put away. If you know that children are “trespassing” onto your property to access your pool, it may be a good idea to make their parents aware of this, or even the police. Lastly, make sure that your homeowner’s policy is up-to-date, and covers any accidents that could happen in your pool.

Keeping Kids off Your Property

The internet is filled with some rather interesting advice on keeping kids off of your lawn: from installing hidden sprinkler systems, to getting aggressive dogs. It’s important to note that these methods are not advisable, and may expose you to more liability.  In most cases, you can be liable for injuries trespassers sustain (regardless of whether or not they’re children) if you rig up booby traps with the specific intention of causing injury. If children continue to come onto your property without invitation, it may be a good idea to invest in a fence, especially if you have dangerous conditions on your property such as swimming pools, bodies of water, land formations, or animals.

When You Need the Maximum Compensation

Unfortunately, you can do all the right things and still end up on the wrong side of a lawsuit. Injuries happen no matter how hard we work to prevent them. That’s why insurance companies and personal injury attorneys exist. Insurance companies compensate the injured party, and personal injury attorneys ensure that the compensation the insurance company is offering is fair. If you’ve sustained injury in an accident, and you’re ready to get the maximum compensation, contact Moxie Law Group today.

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