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Understanding the attractive nuisance doctrine

On Behalf of | Jun 17, 2023 | Premises Liability

Children love to explore, but they do not always understand the dangers surrounding them. The attractive nuisance doctrine assumes children may not fully understand the risks associated with dangerous conditions or objects on a property and puts an obligation on owners to protect children from harmful accidents.

The doctrine has several key elements that are important for New Jersey residents to understand.

Definition and application

An attractive nuisance can be anything on a property that could draw in children and potentially cause them harm such as the following:

  • swimming pools
  • trampolines
  • abandoned cars
  • construction equipment.

Under the attractive nuisance doctrine, property owners must protect or limit access to these objects or conditions to avoid injury to children.

Proving an attractive nuisance claim

For a successful attractive nuisance claim in New Jersey, certain conditions must exist. The injured party must demonstrate that the property owner knew or should have foreseen that children could access the property. The claimant must prove that the property owner recognized the condition as dangerous to children who may not understand the risks due to their age and maturity. Finally, the burden of rectifying the situation should not significantly outweigh the potential risk to children.

Property owners’ responsibilities

Property owners must regularly check their properties for potential hazards that could appeal to children under the attractive nuisance doctrine. If they find any risks, they must act to remove the danger or keep children from accessing the dangerous area. Actions could involve setting up barriers, locking doors, or removing the nuisance entirely.

The attractive nuisance doctrine places responsibility on property owners in New Jersey to protect children from hazards on their properties. Ultimately, the doctrine seeks to protect all children, who may not fully appreciate potential dangers on a property.