Maryland and Virginia landlords must keep their premises safe for their tenants and guests. But they may also face liability for dangers that attract and injure children. The attractive nuisance doctrine may hold landlords legally responsible through a premises liability lawsuit for injuries suffered by children from an enticing and dangerous object on their property.
Attractive nuisance defined
Generally, landlords are not responsible for injuries suffered by trespassers. However, this doctrine is intended to protect children, even if they trespass, because of a dangerous and tempting object. Children would not have entered the property if it did not contain this item, according to the doctrine.
There is no specific age for children to qualify for protection. The courts will consider the child’s maturity and their ability to understand the object’s danger.
A common attractive nuisance is a swimming pool. The owner would be liable if the child drowned in the pool, especially if there was no fence or other safety equipment. Other examples include construction debris, lawnmowers, gardening equipment, trampolines, climbing walls, and refrigerators and other appliances.
Landlord’s legal liability
Landlords are typically responsible for man-made objects that they maintain. They are usually not responsible for natural items, such as a tree.
For liability, the landlord had to be aware that the object was attractive to children and would entice them to trespass on their property. The landlord must also have reason to believe that the object would injure trespassing children. Owners may not be liable for ordinary items such as roofs or stairs may that are kept in good repair or do not present other dangers.
Finally, the cost to repair the dangerous object must be reasonable. Fixing the object should not place an unreasonable burden on the landlord or interfere with the manner they use the object.
Landlords can protect themselves by removing the dangerous object. They can also safeguard it with a fence, barrier or lock. Keeping up with all local and state heath and safety laws is also important. Posting a warning sign does not protect landlords against liability.
The attractive nuisance doctrine may also apply to other property owners and their neighbors. An attorney can help determine your rights and pursue a lawsuit if your child is injured.