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2024 Personal Injury

When Is a Nuisance “Attractive?”

Think back to when you were a child. Imagine that you are out exploring the neighborhood one day when you discover that a neighbor has installed a tire swing over a pond on his property. There’s no fence around the property, so just a few swings and jumps couldn’t hurt, could it? While this hypothetical tire swing indeed sounds fun, it is an example of what the law refers to as an “attractive nuisance,” and attractive nuisances like these can cause injuries to children. If your child has been injured due to a property owner’s negligence, a Tifton personal injury lawyer can help you determine your next steps.  

The Duty of Care Owed to Trespassers 

Georgia premises liability law generally requires landowners and possessors of land to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition and warn visitors about dangers that are not immediately obvious. However, those duties apply only to visitors who are legally permitted to be on the premises. They do not apply to trespassers. Landowners owe no duty of care to trespassers other than to refrain from causing “willful or wanton injury,” such as by setting up booby traps. 

The Attractive Nuisance Doctrine

On the other hand, the “no duty to trespassers” rule applies only to adult trespassers. The rules for child trespassers are different. An “attractive nuisance” is an artificial condition on the land that poses a risk of injury to children who, by their inexperience, are unable to appreciate the risk the condition poses. It can be any item or condition. Some common examples include: 

  • Trampolines 
  • Treehouses 
  • Swimming pools and ponds
  • Abandoned vehicles 
  • Refrigerators, deep freezers, and other appliances 
  • Heavy machinery 
  • Exercise equipment 
  • Wells 
  • Ladders

In Gregory v. Johnson, 249 Ga. 151 (1982), the Georgia Supreme Court adopted five elements that the plaintiff must meet to succeed on an attractive nuisance claim: 

  1. The place where the condition exists is one that the possessor knows or has reason to know that children are likely to trespass; 
  2. The condition is one that the possessor knows or has reason to know will involve an unreasonable risk of death or serious bodily harm to children;
  3. The children do not discover the condition or realize the risk involved with it or in coming within the area made dangerous by it;
  4. The utility to the possessor of maintaining the condition and the burden of eliminating the danger are slight compared to the risk to children involved; and 
  5. The possessor fails to exercise reasonable care to eliminate the danger or otherwise to protect the children

To put it in simpler terms — the property owner has to know that children are likely to be injured by the item or condition and the risk to children must outweigh the practical utility of the item or condition. If the property owner fails to take reasonable measures to prevent harm — such as by installing fencing or putting up “warning” signs — he or she may be liable for any injuries the item or condition causes to trespassing children. 

Speak to a Tifton Personal Injury Lawyer to Evaluate the Strength of Your Case 

If your child was injured while trespassing on someone else’s property and you believe you may have an attractive nuisance claim, an experienced attorney can help you determine the best path forward. For more information, please contact a Tifton personal injury lawyer at the Hudson Injury Firm by calling 229-396-5848 or using our online form