attractive nuisance doctrine was established as an exception to the general rule that a landowner
owes no duty to a trespasser except to prevent or avoid causing willful
and wanton injury. However, the doctrine mainly stands for the benefit
of minor children. The doctrine recognizes that kids are incapable of
understanding or appreciating hazards or dangers on the
premises due to their various ages and levels of maturity.
According to the doctrine, a property owner will be held liable for injuries
to children on the premises, if the injury is caused by any dangerous
condition or object that attracts the curiosity of children who are unable
to understand the risk involved in such an object or condition. For instance,
a property owner will be held liable for injuries caused by unguarded
swimming pools, faulty playground equipment, open pits, abandoned cars,
and abandoned refrigerators. Thus, the doctrine – as a general rule
– details the obligation property owners’ have to exercise
reasonable care to safeguard children from hazardous conditions on the property.
The elements of the doctrine include the following:
- A condition or instrument exists that is dangerous in itself and likely
to or probably would cause injury to those coming into contact with it.
- That condition or instrument is attractive or enticing to young children.
- That child (plaintiff) was incapable, by reason of his or her age, of comprehending
the danger involved.
- That condition or instrument was left unguarded and exposed at a place
where children frequent.
- That is was reasonably practicable and feasible either to prevent access
by children or else to render it innocuous without obstructing any reasonable
purpose or use for which it was intended.
Although Virginia may not follow the attractive nuisance doctrine word-for-word,
it does operate under similar principles when assessing premises liability
cases where minors have suffered injuries. For example, boys and girls
under seven years of age cannot be negligent. Furthermore, Virginia law
also recognizes that children between seven and 14 do not have the capacity
to understand the peril and dangers of their actions.
If your child has recently suffered an injury caused by an attractive nuisance
on someone else’s property in Virginia,
contact our Richmond personal injury attorney at
Halperin Law Center and schedule a
free consultation today.