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Attractive nuisances: an overview

Children are curious and liable to enter others' property if something there attracts them. Such items are called attractive nuisances under Georgia law, and property owners have a special duty to ensure that these items do not bring any harm to children. This duty stands even when the children are trespassers. The courts differ in their definition of a child, so it may be that teens are also included under the law.

The courts define an attractive nuisance in strict terms. The nuisance must be some man-made that requires maintenance on the property owner's part. While children can hurt themselves on virtually anything, the courts acknowledge that children should be familiar with basic dangers like touching fire or falling from a height.

Swimming pools and fountains are common examples of attractive nuisances. Owners are expected not only to post signs but also to use fences and locks to prevent children from getting in. Wells, tunnels, stairs and paths entice children as do lawnmowers, gasoline pumps and other machinery. Even accessible rooftops can be considered attractive nuisances.

Owners are not required to childproof their property. However, the courts are more likely to punish owners who demonstrate a complete lack of effort in maintaining a safe environment. There are state and local laws governing the maintenance of pools and other nuisances.

Those who wish to file a premises liability claim after a child of theirs has been injured may want to consult with a lawyer. It all begins with the case evaluation. The lawyer might hire investigators to build the case, showing that the owner neglected a local regulation, for example. Medical experts may be able to come in to determine the extent of the child's injuries. All of this may help the lawyer negotiate for a fair settlement. As a last resort, victims might choose to litigate.

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