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Detailing the attractive nuisance doctrine

As a parent in Kansas City, you likely equate the arrival of spring with the impending onset of summer vacation. As your children take to the outdoors to explore and play with their friends during the summer, you no doubt counsel them extensively to avoid dangers. So to have many of the parents that our team here at McShane & Brady has worked with in the past, yet many of their children found certain outdoor attractions to enticing to resist. The question is if your child is injured by a hazard on another's property, can you hold said property owner responsible? 

The attractive nuisance doctrine allows you to do just that. Per the Cornell University Law School, this legal principle states that property owners are liable for features of their properties that may entice and then injure young children if they have not taken any measures to protect children from them. This concept recognizes that children may not be able to fully understand the risks certain outdoor features pose. 

The attractive nuisance doctrine was actually originally known as "the turntable doctrine" due to railroad turntables being recognized as the first attractive nuisance. Indeed, the contemporary name actually came to be after court rulings recognized railroad turntables to be so attractive to curious children that they essentially served as invitations on to private land. Over time, attractive nuisances have come to also include: 

  • Swimming pools
  • Construction sites
  • Ponds, lakes and fountains
  • Caves
  • Abandoned vehicles 
  • Farm equipment

Even in cases where your child was not invited on to the land on which an attractive nuisance was found, the property owner may still be liable if he or she did nothing to restrict access to it. More information on premises liability topics such as this one can be found here on our site. 

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