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Do I have an attractive nuisance?

New Yorkers can protect themselves from premises liability claims by identifying and securing any thing or condition that can be reasonably termed an "attractive nuisance." Children, especially, are at risk of being harmed by potentially dangerous conditions, so the law requires additional responsibilities on homeowners to protect youngsters.

There are three main components of the attractive nuisance doctrine, and they are:

-- Under the law, children aren't expected to understand the extent of the dangers present;

-- Those property owners with reasonable beliefs that kids might access their property have additional responsibilities to prevent harm;

-- Owners failing to honor their responsibility can be held liable for any injuries.

Some attractive nuisances, like swimming pools, are quite obvious. The lure must be sufficient to entice youngsters to access an individual's property. Usually it must be manufactured and maintained, which disallows natural bodies of water like lakes or ponds.

Some other potentially troublesome attractive nuisances include:

-- Fountains

-- Tunnels and wells

-- Gas pumps or lawn mowers

-- Stairs or pathways

-- Dangerous animals

-- Rooftops

If property owners take no steps to secure and safeguard these items or features, they could be held legally liable for the injuries the children suffer as a result. Courts look askance at property owners who do nothing to prevent children from being injured due to the owner's carelessness or blatant disregard.

Parents of children who suffer injuries due to unsecured attractive nuisances may be able to recover financial compensation by making a claim against the person's homeowner's insurance. Failing that, they may need to seek relief through the civil court system.

Source: findlaw.com, "Dangers to Children: What is an Attractive Nuisance?," accessed April. 17, 2015

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