Suffering an injury on the property of another person can be a frightening experience. However, if you are not legally on the property, the landowner owed you no duty of care other than to refrain from causing you willful or wanton harm.
In Oklahoma, trespassers who are injured on someone else’s property cannot hold the property owner liable for their injuries. On the other hand, if the trespasser is a child, then the duty owed by the property owner changes.
The doctrine of “attractive nuisance” states that the owner of a potentially dangerous property can be held liable for injuries to trespassing children if the injury is caused by a hazardous condition or object that is most likely to attract kids. Simply put, an attractive nuisance is a structure or condition on the property that is both hazardous and irresistible to children.
Common types of attractive nuisances include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Swimming pools, ponds, and other water attractions
- Open pits
- Discarded appliances, such as washers, dryers, and refrigerators
- Abandoned vehicles
- Construction equipment
Children younger than seven years of age will not be considered negligent. Children between seven and 14 years old are presumed to be incapable of negligence unless it is shown that they knew and appreciated the danger. The attractive nuisance doctrine doesn’t apply to kids older than 14 and injuries to mentally handicapped adults.
According to the doctrine of attractive nuisance, property owners are held liable for harm caused to young children on their property when:
- An attraction or condition exists on an individual’s property that may cause harm to a child.
- The property owner does not take action to prevent children from entering the property and being injured.
- The child is assumed to be too young to understand the risks related to trespassing on the property.
A property owner is obligated to correct the hazardous, such as discard old appliances and vehicles, or take action to prevent a child from entering the property or being harmed, such as installing a fence or covering a pool.
If your child has suffered an injury on the property of someone else in Oklahoma, the doctrine of attractive nuisance may apply to your case, and may be the foundation of your personal injury claim to recover compensation for your child’s injuries.