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What is an "attractive nuisance"?

Parents with small children may be amazed by their kids' capacities to find fun in basic household items. A child may have a room full of new toys but may derive more entertainment from the box they arrived in than from the actual products their parents purchased from them. Because children can be capricious and inquisitive in their actions, they can get themselves into tricky and sometimes dangerous situations when they are not fully supervised by responsible adults.

This is especially true when children are free outdoors. While expected threats like roadway traffic and dangerous strangers are always issues that can place children in harm's way, children can suffer serious and even fatal injuries when they are hurt on the properties of other people. This is particularly the case when those properties contain dangerous but interesting hazards within their boundaries.

An "attractive nuisance" is a property feature that may be interesting to a child, but that could ultimately harm them. An uncovered well, a swimming pool or a piece of unused industrial or agricultural equipment left out in the open, for example, may all entice children to come in for a better look. When property owners suspect that kids may enter their land to play on or see the attractive nuisance, they have a heightened duty of care to take actions to protect them.

Children often do not look out for their own best interests, so in situations involving attractive nuisances property owners must be prepared to offer some level of protection for them. A property owner's knowledge of children's presences, the inclusion of a potential hazard on one's property and the understanding that kids are not always responsible drive their duty to take action in situations involving attractive nuisances.

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The Law Office of James A. Conley

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Edmonds, WA 98020

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