You have taught your child to respect other people’s property and not to trespass, but like many children, your child is curious about her surroundings. While playing outside, she went with friends to explore your neighbor’s interesting yard and sustained an injury. Your neighbor says that the children should not have been trespassing, which you understand, but you also know that he has a large amount of dangerous equipment on his property and has not enclosed it with a fence. Like other Illinois residents facing a similar situation, you may wonder if your neighbor shares some of the responsibility.
The law recognizes that curiosity often drives children, especially younger ones, and they may not respect trespassing rules. This is particularly true if there are no clear boundaries separating private property from the rest of the neighborhood. Lawmakers put attractive nuisance laws in place to protect children, knowing that curiosity may draw them to a dangerous situation in someone else’s yard. Your child and others in the neighborhood could face such attractive nuisance hazards as the following:
- A swimming pool or deep pond in a neighbor’s backyard
- An aggressive dog chained to a dog house
- A refuse pit, drainage ditch or uncovered well
- Power tools and heavy equipment
According to FindLaw, homeowners who know they have a feature or item on their property that can be irresistible and dangerous to children have a responsibility to take reasonable measures to discourage them from gaining access. This could mean installing a fence around the backyard or swimming pool, putting up warning signs about a dangerous dog, covering wells and pits and locking up tools and riding lawnmowers. If your neighbor knew he had an attractive nuisance but ignored it and your child was injured, you may be able to hold him liable for your medical expenses.