Notice to all our Directors of Emergency Services: It is extremely important that you make every effort possible to discuss the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine (see details in italics below) with your contacts at the fire departments and make sure they are aware that their citizens are at risk if their property is not properly secured after a fire. Yes, your citizens could be held liable for an injury to a child trespassing on their land if the injury is caused by a hazardous object or condition on the land that is likely to attract children, as described under the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine.
The attractive nuisance doctrine applies to the law of torts, in the United States. It states that a landowner may be held liable for injuries to children trespassing on the land if the injury is caused by an object on the land that is likely to attract children.The doctrine is designed to protect children who are unable to appreciate the risk posed by the object, by imposing a liability on the landowner.The doctrine has been applied to hold landowners liable for injuries caused by abandoned cars, piles of lumber or sand, trampolines, and swimming pools. However, it can be applied to virtually anything on the property of the landowner.
There is no set cut off point that defines youth. The courts will evaluate each “child” on case-by-case basis to see if the “child” qualifies as a youth.
If it is determined that the child was able to understand and appreciate the hazard, the doctrine of attractive nuisance will not likely apply.
Under the old common law, the plaintiff (either the child, or a parent suing on the child’s behalf) had to show that it was the hazardous condition itself which lured the child onto the landowner’s property. However, most jurisdictions have statutorily altered this condition, and now require only that the injury was foreseeable by the landowner.