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In Nevada, property owners have a duty to take care of their property. One of the ways that property owners must keep their property safe is by making sure that children who come on the property do not face any dangers. Even when children trespass on someone else’s property, the property owner still has a duty to take steps to keep children safe.
The law that requires property owners to keep their property safe for trespassing children is called the attractive nuisance doctrine. Although the law is relatively straightforward, you may still need to work with a personal injury law firm to determine how this law will impact your situation after an accident.
The law that requires property owners to protect children is called the attractive nuisance doctrine. Children might want to trespass onto a property to play. Attractive nuisance examples could include child trespassers seeing a swimming pool, roof or other structure that looks fun and might attract children. Even though the structure might be dangerous, a child may not understand those risks.
The attractive nuisance doctrine requires property owners to take steps to protect children even when they’re trespassers. If a man-made structure exists on a property, the property owner must take reasonable steps for the safety of children that might trespass on the property. Nevada’s attractive nuisance laws are found in Nevada Revised Statute 41.515.
There are a number of reasons why children might want to enter your property, particularly if the property is not secure or easily accessible to them. Some of the most common things that could attract children to a property and entice them to trespass include:
- Water, such as swimming pools and fountains
- Playground equipment, such as swings and slides
- Construction projects
- Unsupervised tools or equipment
Any of these elements could create a dangerous condition for trespassing children on any property. If a property owner did not take measures to secure the property and make it safe for children even after knowing that children were being attracted to the property for these reasons, the attractive nuisance law applies.
Each state has its own attractive nuisance laws. Often, the laws in a state come from tradition instead of from written law. The laws aren’t written down formally until the court applies a law and adopts it. When laws develop from traditions about fairness and justice, they’re called common law.
In many states, attractive nuisance laws come from common laws. The laws aren’t written down until a child gets hurt and brings a legal claim for compensation. Usually, attractive nuisance laws develop over time as courts decide real cases.
This was true in Nevada until the legislature passed an attractive nuisance law in 2015. A personal injury lawyer will be able to explain how this applies to the attractive nuisance elements of your case.
Nevada’s attractive nuisance law is Nevada Revised Statute 41.515 (NRS 41.515). The law lists some ways that a property owner can be held legally liable if a child gets hurt on their property. The requirements include:
- The trespasser is a child
- The child can’t appreciate the dangerous condition because of their youth
- The condition is artificial; it doesn’t exist naturally
- It’s a kind of artificial condition that a child would want to access
- A property owner should realize that the condition is dangerous for a child
- The time and expense involved in taking steps to keep the property safe is small compared to the injuries that a child could suffer if they get hurt
- It’s a condition that can be made safer with reasonable steps
The attractive nuisance doctrine applies only to artificial conditions. If a lake or river occurs naturally on a property, the property owner has no duty to secure the lake from trespassing children. But if a property owner builds a pool or installs a trampoline on their property, they have a duty to take steps to protect young children.
A property owner has to take reasonable steps to keep children from accessing the danger. While warning signs are a start, these signs alone may not be enough. If the threat is water, the property owner may need to build a fence around the water. If the danger is a rooftop, the property owner may need to ensure that doors are locked, and ladders are secured to prevent access.
For the attractive nuisance doctrine to apply, the trespasser must be a child. The law expects adults to be able to recognize and appreciate dangers. Children may not be able to understand how an attractive nuisance can be dangerous. That’s why the law affords them extra help.
If a trespasser is an adult, the property owner’s liability is more limited. Nevada law 41.515 limits the duty of a property owner to an adult trespasser. Adults are expected to be able to identify and avoid dangers and take measures for their own safety.
Nevada’s written attractive nuisance law is relatively new. The idea has always been a part of Nevada’s common law, but the attractive nuisance law became written law only in 2015. The written attractive nuisance law is part of a more important law that the legislature passed to lessen the burden on property owners when it comes to trespassers.
Under old Nevada law, property owners had a duty to even adult trespassers. The new law still requires property owners to take measures to keep children safe. But the law removes a property owner’s responsibilities to adults. Adult trespassers generally trespass at their own risk, with some exceptions.
If a child gets hurt because of an attractive nuisance, the property owner may face legal liability to the child, similar to that of premises liability in personal injury cases. The child may have physical injuries that require treatment. There are damages available to an injured child that may cover the monetary expenses related to the child’s injuries, including medical bills.
There are also damages available for physical suffering. Our experienced attorneys can help you value the case and take the right steps to claim maximum compensation for your personal injury claim under the law.
Any injury to a child is a tragedy. When an injury occurs because of an attractive nuisance on someone else’s property, the property owner may owe the child compensation for their injuries. If your child is hurt, they may deserve compensation even if they’re trespassing at the time of the injury. We invite you to contact us to discuss your case and how a personal injury lawsuit can help get you the relief you and your child need after this type of accident.
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Adam S. Kutner
PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER
With more than 33 years of experience fighting for victims of personal injury in the Las Vegas Valley, attorney Adam S. Kutner knows his way around the Nevada court system and how to get clients their settlement promptly and trouble-free.