Is a swimming pool considered an attractive nuisance?
In most cases, a swimming pool will be considered an “attractive nuisance” when it comes to premises liability laws and a homeowner’s potential legal responsibility for injuries to children who are on the property, either with permission or as trespassers.
"Attractive nuisance" laws are meant to protect children who may be on someone else's property. The underlying premise of these laws is that, unlike adult trespassers, children do not understand property rights and the right or wrong inherent in trespassing. So, when something on a homeowner's property might tend to attract children -- and a swimming pool is the most common example of this -- a property owner may be required to take reasonable steps to safeguard children who come onto the property. And this is especially true if the homeowner knows that neighborhood children often wonder onto the land.
Whether it’s a swimming pool or some other enticement, most states will find a homeowner liable under the “attractive nuisance” doctrine if 1) some aspect of the property could reasonably be seen as attractive or intriguing for children, 2) children do trespass or are likely to trespass on the property, and 3) the homeowner knew or could reasonably be expected to know that children would not normally recognize the risk posed by the “attractive nuisance.”
So, what can you do to protect children and also protect yourself from liability? When it comes to swimming pools, make sure the pool is drained if’s it not in use for a long time, and install a childproof pool cover over the pool if it’s not drained. In all cases, even when the pool is drained, it should be surrounded by a sturdy and sufficiently high fence.
Homeowners should maintain homeowner's insurance to protect against potential liability visitors’ injuries. Keep in mind that, while an adult trespasser would likely not be able to hold you liable for most injuries that occur on your property, the rules are very different when it comes to injuries to child trespassers.
by: David Goguen, J.D.