What is the attractive nuisance doctrine?

Monday May 13, 2019

You do your best to try and make your children aware of the many dangers that they can encounter both inside and outside of your home in Connecticut. Yet while you can control and restrict their access to those dangerous elements inside your home, you have control over what they may come across outside. You know that there are plenty of attractions that, despite your warnings, your kids may be naturally drawn to. Your hope is the owners of the properties on which those attractions are found are mindful of their effect on children, and thus take steps to protect kids from them. 

Yet is that expectation enforced by the law? The legal principle of the attractive nuisance doctrine places the responsibility on property owners to protect children from artificial features found on their lands. This responsibility comes from the understanding that young children will often not appreciate the dangers that an attractive nuisance poses. The original attractive nuisances were railroad turntables; indeed, the doctrine was initially known as “the turntable doctrine” until its definition was expanded to include other potentially dangerous features such as: 

  • Swimming pools
  • Canals and fountains
  • Abandoned buildings
  • Junkyards

According to the Cornell Law School, the attractive nuisance doctrine can even be applied to your case if your child was injured by an attractive nuisance while on property on which they had not been given permission to be. It should be known, however, that property owners can take steps to absolve themselves of liability under this doctrine. Erecting a fence around a feature may be viewed as all that is needed to avoid being held liable for an injury it causes. 

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