Should I Safeguard My Property To Keep Children From Harm?

On behalf of Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C.

If you heard that you may be held responsible if a dangerous feature on your property harms a neighborhood child, this might conflict with what you know about trespassing. Nobody, including children, should come onto your property without your permission, so it isn’t your fault if a child enters your yard and gets hurt, right? Unfortunately, you could be wrong in this case. You and other Wisconsin residents need to understand how attractive nuisance law differs from trespassing law.

FindLaw explains that the law recognizes that children do not always obey rules, especially when they are younger or influenced by their peers. Therefore, attractive nuisance laws exist to protect neighborhood children from dangers on private property.

What is an attractive nuisance?

An attractive nuisance is a feature that children might find interesting or enticing, but could also be dangerous. For example, you might have a large guard dog chained in your backyard. A sympathetic child could wander over to feed him a treat without realizing the dog is not friendly to strangers. Another common attractive nuisance is a swimming pool. While you are at work or on vacation, a group of kids in the neighborhood might decide to sneak over for a swim. As you may imagine, unsupervised swims can turn out disastrous for children.

What are you required to do?

If you know something on your property might entice curious children, it’s your duty to take reasonable measures to safeguard the feature. You might put a fence around your yard and a locked gate around your pool. It would also be wise to put up signs warning strangers about your aggressive dog.

If you adequately address attractive nuisances, you not only protect children from harm, but yourself from legal action. The law may also allow you to seek compensation if your child suffered an injury on property that your neighbor failed to safeguard.