For many Ohio residents, the term "attractive nuisance" may seem like a contradiction. Nuisance is commonly used to describe something that is annoying, but the legal tort of nuisance applies to dangerous as well as irritating situations. The term is used to describe something that is both dangerous and highly alluring to children, and it was first applied to railroad turntables in a 19th Century U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Property owners with swimming pools may face attractive nuisance lawsuits if they do not install fences and gates to prevent children from using their pools without permission. Construction sites have an almost hypnotic effect on children, and ensuring that dangerous machinery and materials are placed out of the reach of trespassers is both a prudent and legally sound policy. While high voltage power lines may be an attractive nuisance, courts have often held that children old enough to scale the fences protecting them are also old enough to appreciate the dangers of doing so.
Natural elements like lakes and ponds are not generally considered to be attractive nuisances, but man-made water features often are. Even trash can lead to lawsuits, and failing to properly dispose of items like cars or appliances that children may want to play on, in or near can lead to injuries and litigation. What may be construed as an attractive nuisance is not always clear, and an innocuous piece of debris or an empty swimming pool could be highly intriguing to skateboarders.
The injuries caused by attractive nuisances can be especially serious because the victims are children and adults are rarely on hand to offer assistance. An attorney with experience in lawsuits concerning dangerous property may conduct an investigation to secure evidence of hazardous conditions and the inadequate steps that have been taken to prevent children from gaining entry and being injured as a result.