Children can be drawn to all kinds of things – particularly when they’re out and about with lots of free time on their hands during the summer. They don’t always know what can be dangerous to them, and sometimes will go onto someone else’s property to further investigate something that looks fun or interesting.
That’s why states, including Ohio, have some version of an “attractive nuisance” doctrine. It allows both personal and commercial property owners to be held liable if a child is injured on something they have a responsibility to maintain – even if they’re trespassing.
Ohio has an attractive nuisance doctrine
Ohio’s attractive nuisance doctrine originated with the state Supreme Court and was later codified by the legislature. Under the law, a property owner can be held liable both for harm to a child and to an adult who’s trying to rescue the child from a “dangerous condition” on the property. There’s typically more liability around an artificial condition, like a koi pond built on the property than a natural pond located on a piece of land.
Attractive nuisances can be any number of things. Swimming pools are commonly cited as examples. Trampolines and other play equipment can be as well. Even things like outdoor sculptures that can be climbed on can qualify. So can animals, ladders and landscaping equipment that might be left outside unattended.
Property owners can’t always eliminate every dangerous condition from their property. However, they do have some responsibility to make it inaccessible – for example, by putting a wall or fence with a locked gate around a pool. They should be consulting with their insurance company to get guidance on minimizing dangers to those who come on the property – invited or not.
Every situation is different. That’s why if your child has been injured by something you believe qualifies as an attractive nuisance, it’s wise to seek legal guidance.