You recently returned from vacation to find your back gate open and the deck furniture around your swimming pool disturbed. A review of your security camera confirmed your suspicions: While you were out of town, some neighborhood children let themselves in and enjoyed your pool. You shrug it off as just something kids do until a friend warns you that if a child drowned or sustained an injury on your property, the parents would likely hold you liable. For this reason, you and other Maryland residents need to know about attractive nuisances.
An attractive nuisance, explains FindLaw, is a potentially hazardous feature on private property that can lure curious children to investigate or play with. Swimming pools are the most common attractive nuisances, but you might have others, such as a deep irrigation ditch, a riding lawnmower or an uncovered well. If you are aware that something on your property might entice children to come over and get hurt, it is your responsibility to take reasonable measures to discourage their access to your yard. These might include the following:
- Locking your gate and installing an alarm system
- Putting a fence around your swimming pool
- Parking your riding mower in a locked shed
- Securing your well with a locked cover
What about trespassing laws, you wonder? Won’t the kids face consequences for going on your property without your permission? The courts concede that children do not always obey the rules, especially younger ones – therefore, the law considers attractive nuisance laws a necessity.
You greatly reduce your chances of being liable for an accident on your property when you address a known risk. The same applies for attractive nuisances in your neighbors’ yards. If your child suffers an injury because a homeowner did not restrict access to his or her property, you may be eligible for compensation.