What is an Attractive Nuisance Georgia? McArthur Law Firm

The attractive nuisance doctrine is an exception in Georgia premises liability law that specifically applies to child trespassers. So, for that landowner a special “duty” exists, if the possessor knows or has reason to know, that the “thing” might attract inquisitive children. This is detailed under the State of Georgia’s attractive nuisance laws.

Children are likely to trespass. In tort law, the “attractive-nuisance doctrine” requires property owners to protect trespassing children in the same fashion as they would for invited guests (which Georgia laws call “invitees”). An attractive nuisance is a dangerous condition on a property that can be foreseen to likely attract children and put them at risk of bodily harm or death.

Definition of Attractive Nuisance

According to attractive nuisance laws in Georgia, property owners who have “things” or apparatuses that would “draw” children over to it must be careful to remove (or fence off) such dangers or post warnings. If a “duty of care” existed to take measures to eliminate the risk of harm, that property owner can be held liable for injuries or death of young children.

Katherine McArthur Attractive Nuisance Attorney

Kathy McArthur was named the Cover Story Attorney for 2024 by Super Lawyers for Georgia, out of over 33,000 possible other attorneys

What is an Attractive Nuisance? GA Laws to Protect Children

Attractive nuisance examples. For example, an adult passing a swimming pool should know that falling into the water could be dangerous. Kids, particularly small children, lack the capacity to recognize possible drowning hazards in the same manner that adults would immediately perceive as being a “threat.”

Additionally, an adult would likely be able to swim, reducing the risk of serious swimming pool injuries if he or she did happen to fall in. Other commonly recognized hazards include an artificial condition or apparatus that has been installed or put up, like:

  • A trampoline
  • Abandoned refrigerators or freezers for which a child might climb inside and close the door behind him or her and then be impossible to open from inside.
  • A rope swing that has tied-off rungs (making a ladder-like connection, to move upward) between the two ends of that rope that is wrapped and tied over a sturdy tree limb.
  • An unfenced junk yard (e.g., a commercial junk and salvage yard, or just a home for which all types of different, discarded items may be stacked up) would likely be a source of curiosity for children. That owner needs to exercise reasonable care to partition it off or block access of children, who won’t recognize potential dangers.
  • An abandoned car or truck that might have doors that would shut behind a child that entered, and then may not be able to get out, in a hot climate environment.
  • A man-made pond or lake that has no perimeter fencing or signage, like numerous well-placed “no trespassing” signs.
  • Dog bite (or other type of pet). An unchained, unfenced, or unrestrained dog or other type of pet, which can cause harm. Other common pet bites can come from a cat bite of serious scratching (e.g., eye damage or facial injuries), a stork bite, Komodo dragon bite, pet snake bite, pig bite, turtle bite or iguana bite. If the animal was illegal to possess at all (e.g., a deer, a racoon, a baby bear or a wolf), an entirely different standard of liability may exist.

However, to a child, an unattended swimming pool is an interesting curiosity, or an “attractive nuisance,” rather than a hazard. As a result, a child may wander onto private property and into the pool, possibly sustaining serious injuries or even drowning.

Because of these risks, property owners must take reasonable action to eliminate attractive nuisances or make them inaccessible to children according to Georgia attractive nuisance laws. For example, swimming pool owners must put adequate fencing around the pool to keep any child trespassers safe from being able to fall in or jump in.

Eliminating the danger. Other potential attractive nuisances include abandoned cars, refrigerators, farm machinery, and other equipment. Liability claims against those who failed to use “due care” to eliminate the risk can lead to heavy-duty civil penalties under attractive nuisance laws and jury verdicts.

Additionally, swing sets, wells, stairways, and even mounds of dirt and animals can all be attractive nuisances. Construction sites, power stations, and railroad train yards must also have fencing and other precautions to protect wandering children.

Katherine McArthur Attractive Nuisance Lawyer

Premises Liability Attorney: The Legal Duty Owed to Children

Under Georgia premises liability law, OCGA 51-3-3, property owners have a duty to keep their buildings and land safe for guests and visitors. Typically, this duty does not extend to adult-age trespassers who enter the property without the owner’s permission.

However, in Georgia and all other states, statutes make special exceptions for trespassers who are children. This is because young children are not expected to behave in the same reasonable manner as adults, in assessing risks from things that “attract” them to approach the “thing” that is dangerous. This is known as an attractive nuisance and is covered under attractive nuisance laws.

Under the attractive nuisance doctrine, property owners can sometimes be held liable for a child trespasser’s injuries in a premises liability lawsuit. An experienced premises liability attorney like Kathy McArthur can help you fight for your rights in a child injury claim.

The litigation attorneys at our law firm have a history of successful jury verdicts and pre-trial settlements in attractive nuisance law cases. Call today for your free lawyer consultation so that we can put those decades of experience to work for you.

Much like Georgia’s reckless driving law, the attractive nuisance doctrine under Georgia law is vague. Therefore, the statute is subject to interpretation, which can become quite complex in a personal injury claim.

McArthur Law Firm Attractive Nuisance Attorneys

What Must Be Proven to Have a Viable Civil Litigation Case against a Property Owner?

What are the attractive nuisance doctrine elements of the civil offense? Many parts of the attractive nuisance doctrine are open to interpretation. However, in general, for this kind of attractive nuisance lawsuit, you and your attorney must prove a violation of the elements of attractive nuisance laws such as:

  • An existing condition, object, or installation on the owner’s property was significantly dangerous.
  • This hazard was attractive or interesting to a child.
  • The child in question was incapable of understanding the dangers posed by the hazard.
  • This hazardous condition existed in an area frequented by children, meaning that the property owner should understand that a child might have access to his or her property.
  • The property owner knew or should reasonably have known about the danger but did not address it or take reasonable precautions.

Many of these points may be difficult to prove definitively. For example, depending on the age of the child who sustained an injury, the court may decide that he or she should have understood the dangers of the potential hazard.

What about an attractive nuisance swimming pool? Additionally, it is not always clear whether a property owner’s actions qualify as “reasonable precautions.” For example, an owner might put up fencing around a pool, and this be enough, but only posting a sign or two may not be sufficient to prevent children from deadly consequences, especially if a 3-year-old drowns.

If a child climbs over a fence and gets hurt in a swimming pool, liability may fall on the property owner where the pool is located. This is usually up to the jury to decide if there was a violation of Georgia attractive nuisance laws.

Child Death or Serious Bodily Injury on Other Landowner’s Property? Dial Our Number Now

If you have questions about an attractive nuisance case, ask the attorneys at the McArthur Law Firm for guidance. Our award-winning injury and wrongful death attorneys can file a premises liability lawsuit and aggressively seek the compensation that your family deserves and needs.

Our legal warriors offer legal representation statewide from our offices in Macon and Atlanta. In the past, our attractive nuisance clients also have included cases of Albany, Columbus as well as Savannah and Augusta.

Call 404-565-1621 for our Atlanta Office or 478-238-6600 for the Macon Office location. With a FREE initial consultation with an experienced and successful premises liability attorney, what wait any longer?

More Premises Liability Resources

If you’d like to learn more about attractive nuisance laws and the types of premises liability cases the McArthur Law Firm handles, read other helpful articles. We describe a wide range of premises liability cases we have worked on.