Children are adventurous creatures, and their natural curiosity can often result in tragic situations when they decide to investigate something that is far more dangerous than they are capable of understanding at a given age, such as a hot stove or a swimming pool.
In fact, such tragedies have occurred often enough that the law requires people to take proper precautions with "attractive nuisances" on their property. An "attractive nuisance" is a danger or a safety hazard that children might find appealing or interesting. Since children cannot be monitored at all times, and they may not have enough world experience to understand what poses a danger to them, it is the responsibility of property owners to take reasonable steps to keep children away from attractive nuisances or make them less likely to cause harm.
The legal dilemma arises when you have to decide what precautions are sufficient for property owners to take. Is it enough to put up a warning sign near the nuisance? What about a chain-link fence? What about a chain-link fence with barbed wire at the top? The amount of precautions that are necessary usually depends on the nuisance itself; a swimming pool might need fewer precautions than a high voltage, electrical power facility, for example.
If your child has been injured in an encounter with an attractive nuisance, one issue in an insurance claim will be whether your child was incapable of understanding the risks surrounding the encounter. If the property owner knows that children frequent their property, then they may be responsible for your child’s injury. Notice that children have gone on the land or business before, puts more duty on the owner, or person using the place, to act with care.
It is always better to try and take your child’s safety into your own hands, at least until they are old enough to take care of themselves. Watch over them, and as soon as they are old enough, teach them about the dangers of certain attractive nuisances. With more children as "latch key" kids, and the difficulty of finding and affording good day care and after school care, the risks increase. While parents need to try to educate youngsters, businesses, like railroads and power companies, have to do their part to use ordinary care in relation to equipment and operations which can cripple or seriously injure a child.
Rick Shapiro has practiced personal injury law for over two decades in Virginia, North Carolina, and throughout the Southeastern United States. He is a Board Certified Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy (ABA Accredited) and has litigated injury cases throughout the eastern United States, including wrongful death, trucking, faulty products, railroad and medical negligence claims. His success in and out of the court room is a big reason why he was named 2019 “Lawyer of the Year” in railroad law in U.S. News & World Report's Best Lawyers publication (Norfolk, VA area), and he has been named a “Best Lawyer” and “Super Lawyer” by those peer reviewed organizations for many years.