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What is Texas’s Attractive Nuisance Doctrine?

Houston Premises Liability Lawyer

Property owners have various responsibilities for ensuring the safety of their premises. Typically, property owners have a heightened responsibility to ensure the safety of individuals who have the right to be on their property. This could include invited guests or those that typically will enter the property for other purposes, such as delivery drivers or utility workers. However, there is also something called an “attractive nuisance doctrine” in Texas designed to help protect children from unsafe hazards on people’s property. If you or a loved one suffered an injury due to a defect on someone else’s property, call a Houston premises liability lawyer.

Understanding an Attractive Nuisance

Premises liability law in Texas requires all property owners, private and public, to provide reasonable care to any individual who enters their property. In other words, this requires property owners to ensure their premises are safe for visitors who are expected. However, the attractive nuisance laws in Texas extend this duty of care to those who may even trespass, specifically children. Property owners must ensure that a child will be safe on the premises, whether the child is invited onto the property or not.

Attractive nuisance laws in Texas assume a few things:

  1. That a child does not properly understand danger
  2. Property owners can understand if a child may trespass onto their premises
  3. Property owners are responsible for injuries children sustain if they fail to follow these concepts

Perhaps the most important factor for Texas child nuisance laws is the age of the children involved. Any child trespasser must be at an age where they would not properly understand the dangers associated with hazards on the premises. For example, a three-year-old child would not understand the risks associated with jumping into a major trench dug on a property. It is the property owner’s responsibility to ensure that a trench is properly cordoned off so that a child cannot get into it.

There are various types of property features that could be considered an attractive nuisance for a child. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Pools
  • Hot tubs
  • Wells
  • Fountains
  • Fish ponds
  • Ladders
  • Landscaping
  • Scaffolding
  • Accessible rooftops
  • Outdoor equipment
  • Construction sites

This is certainly not a complete list of possible attractive nuisances that could affect children. If you are unsure about whether or not a future on your property could attract children and cause them harm, we urge you to err on the side of caution. It is better to go ahead and secure any possible attractive nuisances than to risk a child becoming injured.

Pools and Attractive Nuisances

The CDC states that children age 1 through 4 have the highest drowning rate among all age ranges. Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children aged 5 through 14. It is vital for property owners in Texas to ensure that they have the appropriate fencing around all four sides of the pool to prevent children from unintentionally accessing the water.

In Texas, every pool must be enclosed by a fence that is at least 48 inches tall and is not climbable. Any gaps in the pool fencing cannot allow a spear of at least 4 inches in diameter to pass through or under. The pools must also have a gate that is at least 48 inches tall that follows all of the other fencing requirements. The gate must be self-closing and self-latching and open away from the pool and be able to lock.

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