Understanding the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine in AlabamaPublished: Apr 30, 2019 in Personal Injury, Premises Liability
One of the challenges of being a parent is balancing your desire to protect your children with their need for freedom and independence. At some point, you have to let your kids explore the world around them. Unfortunately, your children can wander into areas they aren’t supposed to be, and often fail to recognize dangers that are obvious to adults. When your child is out of sight, do others have an obligation to protect them from harm? If your child has been injured on someone else’s property, you may be able to hold the property owner liable under the state’s attractive nuisance doctrine.
At Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C., our Alabama premises liability lawyers have helped injury victims fight for the compensation they deserve for decades. If your child has been injured, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your options.
Property Owners’ Legal Obligation to Those Who Visit Their Land
In order to understand the attractive nuisance doctrine, it’s helpful to first review the basics of premises liability in Alabama. Generally speaking, a property owner may be held liable for someone’s injuries sustained on their property in certain situations, categorized according to the nature of the relationship between the property owner and the person who has been injured.
Alabama law recognizes three distinct categories of guests that then determine the property owner’s duty to keep them safe:
These are people who are invited onto the property for the owner’s benefit. Examples would be shoppers, concert goers, or other people on the property for a commercial purpose. Property owners have the greatest obligation towards invitees. They must take reasonable care to prevent injuries, regularly inspect the property for hazards, and warn guests of any particular risks.
These are individuals who are allowed to be on the property, but without any commercial purpose. For example, your family and friends would be licensees when they visit your home. Property owners have a reduced obligation with regard to licensees.
Trespassers have no legal right to be on the property. Property owners have no legal duty to protect trespassers against injury, beyond willfully or intentionally causing them harm.
What About Attractive Nuisances?
As noted above, property owners have no legal duty to prevent injury to people trespassing on their property. However, Alabama recognizes an important exception when the trespasser is a child. Under the attractive nuisance doctrine, property owners can be held liable for an injury to a child trespassing upon their property if the following elements are met:
- The property owner knew or should have known that children could be expected to come onto the property
- The property owner knew or should have known that there was something on the property that would likely attract children and present unreasonable risk of injury or death
- Children would be unlikely to appreciate the risk of injury or death
- The property owner failed to take reasonable measures to address the hazard or prevent injuries to children
The attractive nuisance doctrine imposes a responsibility on property owners to take steps to protect children from harm, because they cannot always recognize or fully appreciate the dangers they may encounter.
What is an Attractive Nuisance?
The critical component of the attractive nuisance doctrine lies in determining what exactly constitutes an attractive nuisance. An attractive nuisance is an object or feature that is likely to attract children and pose a certain risk of injury or death.
Examples of Attractive Nuisances
Common attractive nuisances seen in Alabama include:
- Swimming pools
- Playground equipment
- Fountains or ponds
- Pits or ditches dug by the property owner
Contact Our Alabama Premises Liability Attorneys Today
Property owners have a legal obligation to guard children against injuries. If your son or daughter has been injured on someone else’s land, you should speak with an attorney who can help you understand your rights. With decades of experience, the attorneys at Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. will fight for you to obtain the compensation you may be entitled to. Call us today at (205) 933-1500, or fill out our online form to schedule your free consultation.