It is no doubt the world is a changing place. When our grandparents were growing up, it was common for children to play in the neighbor’s yard, in the cul-de-sac, or in the neighborhood pond; but what is different now? Among other things, attractive nuisance laws at the state level. In Tennessee specifically, our laws have been updated as recent as the 2012 legislative session.
The Law on Attractive Nuisances
So what is an attractive nuisance law? In a nutshell, a property owner (or, even a possessor) is liable for the physical injury or death of a child trespasser if the five specific elements are present as found in subsection (c) of T.C.A. § 29-34-208:
- The landowner has maintained a dangerous condition of which he knew or should have known about;
- knowledge of children likely playing in area;
- the children are unlikely to discover/understand the risk of the area;
- the burden of eliminating the dangerous condition is outweighed by the risk of the condition (basically, considering the severity of the condition, was it feasible for the landowner to fix it)
- lack of reasonable care to eliminate the condition or keep children from coming in contact with the condition
**Remember, this exact statute continues to be valid law when applied to child trespassers only.
Do you have an attractive nuisance?
Now that we have read the black letter law, what types of conditions are commonly seen in suits around this “attractive nuisance” doctrine?
- Swimming pools
- Construction sites
- Manmade ponds and lakes
- Drainage holes
If you think you might have an attractive nuisance on your property, it is smart to secure it as best as you possibly can. For properties with a swimming pool, lake, or deep manmade hole, our attorneys recommend you install a high fence around the immediate area and keep a lock system on the gate. This decision may very well save a child’s life and keep everyone out of court in a potential suit for wrongful death.