Property owners in New York generally decide who is allowed on their property and who is not. This does not necessarily prevent people from entering their property without permission though. When people do enter others property without permission they are known as trespassers. Usually property owners owe trespassers very little protections to keep them safe while they are on their property. Basically, property owners only need to ensure they are not intentionally harming trespassers.
This general rule does not apply to every trespasser though. Property owners have extra responsibilities to keep children trespassers safe from objects on the property that could harm them. This is known as the attractive nuisance doctrine. Property owners have extra responsibilities to children because children do not always realize the potential dangers associated with different man-made objects.
Elements of an attractive nuisance claim
The attractive nuisance doctrine applies when the following conditions are met:
- The property owner knows the potentially dangerous object is in a place where children may go.
- The object could cause severe injury or death to children.
- The children, due to their age or maturity, do not understand the potential dangers associated with the object.
- The cost to protect children from the object are small compared to the dangers it poses to children.
- The property owner failed to take reasonable steps to protect children from the dangerous object.
A common example of an attractive nuisance is a swimming pool. People need to put fences around pools or take other steps to prevent children who could drown in the pool from going into it.
Children are inquisitive and it is important that property owners in New York protect them from dangers on their property. If they do not properly protect children and they are injured, the property owner could be liable for compensating the children for the damages they suffer as a result of the accident. Experienced attorneys understand the elements of attractive nuisance actions and may be able to guide one through it.