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Explaining the attractive nuisance doctrine

Wintertime in Bozeman brings with it certain activities that, while enjoyable, can certainly be dangerous (particularly to children). Many often come to us here at Cok Kinzler PLLP after having suffered through the tragic death of a child wondering if they have any legal recourse to help compensate for their loss. If you have lost a child to a potentially dangerous activity whose associated risks he or she would have likely not anticipated, then there may be legal precedent for you to initiate action.

In such cases, you may be able to cite the attractive nuisance doctrine. This legal principle (as shared by the Cornell University Law School) states that if a child is injured due to a hazardous object or condition for which he or she may not have comprehended the risk that it posed, the then landowner on which it was encountered may be held liable. This principle may hold true even in instances where your child was on a property without the owner’s permission.

Say that your child and his or her friends find a steep hill on someone’s property that appears ideal for sledding. He or she sleds down the hill at a high speed that does not allow him or her to stop before reaching a road, and is consequently hit by a car. If the property owner put measures in place to protect anyone who might engage in such activity (with or without his or her consent), then he or she may not be liable. If, however, no such protection was available, the attractive nuisance doctrine may not allow him or her to escape blame due to not having given the kids permission to be there.

More information on assigning liability for a wrongful death can be found on our site. 

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