When you have neighbors, one thing that's important to understand is when they or you can become liable for damage and injuries to the other person's property or to the people themselves. For instance, you probably know that you have a right to put up a fence, but what happens if that fence is sharp and ends up cutting the neighbor's child? What happens if someone attempts to climb it and is impaled on the spikes?
One thing to know is a term called "attractive nuisance." An attractive nuisance is an object that might lead someone to do something that would result in injury. For instance, a child might see your fence and think they can climb it. This makes it attractive, but it is also a nuisance because there is a potential for a serious injury.
What is the attractive nuisance doctrine?
The attractive nuisance doctrine states that the law doesn't expect kids to understand all possible dangers of a situation. For instance, they may not consider the risk of falling off your fence or getting stabbed at the top. The doctrine also states that if a property owner has a reason to think that a child might come onto the property, then they need to take steps to prevent that from happening or to prevent harm. Finally, if the owner of the property doesn't meet the requirements, they can be held liable for any injuries a child suffers.
How do homeowners protect themselves against attractive nuisance liability?
The best thing to do is to eliminate certain dangers. For instance, instead of having a spiked fence, it's safer to have one with a flat top. Placing a solid fence instead of a fence with holes will prevent kids from having easy access to climb. Generally speaking, just consider the situation you're in and make the best possible choices to prevent injury. You may even wish to speak with your neighbor if you think something you want to place on your property might be dangerous or if you believe something of theirs is a hazard.
The courts understand that homeowners can only do so much to prevent injuries to others, but if someone doesn't take steps to prevent a potential hazard from becoming a harmful object, it's within the victim's rights to pursue a claim. This claim may seek compensation for medical bills and other losses that are a result of the nuisance.