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New Mexico’s Attractive Nuisance Doctrine

New Mexico’s Attractive Nuisance Doctrine

A property owner in New Mexico has a legal responsibility to keep their premises safe for guests, passersby, and certain trespassers. For example, if a bystander is injured by a defective staircase or a hidden extension cord, that person may have grounds to file a premises liability claim. However, that person can only obtain damages if their legal team can prove the property owner knew (or should have known) about the unsafe hazard, failed to put up visible warning signs, and ultimately failed to remedy the situation.

But what happens if the trespasser is a child? Children are naturally reckless, curious, and prone to courting danger. Unfortunately, this innocent mindset can get them into quite a bit of trouble – especially if they meander onto a neighbor’s property. For example, if there is an attractive or alluring feature on a landowner’s property, such as a swimming pool, pet, or abandoned playground equipment, a child may break in and suffer severe injuries. In the field of personal injury, this scenario falls under a legal concept known as the “attractive nuisance doctrine.”  

Each year, hundreds of children are hurt by dangerous property conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unintentional drowning and slip and fall accidents are a leading cause of child injuries and fatalities.

Common “attractive nuisances” include, but are not limited to:

  • Animals
  • Swimming pools and Jacuzzis
  •  Fountains and ponds
  • Playground equipment
  • Fake trees
  • Discarded appliances
  • Trampolines
  • Construction equipment
  • Open pits
  • Skateboard ramps
  • Tunnels
  • Abandoned vehicles
  • Wells

The purpose of the attractive nuisance doctrine is simple: protect children who lack the cognitive awareness to recognize and circumvent risks. Unlike children, property owners have the ability to identify and rectify hazards on their property, particularly those that could appeal to children. A property owner can avoid a lawsuit by fixing potential hazards, repairing broken fences, removing dangerous elements, etc.

If your child has been injured on someone else’s property, you may have grounds to pursue compensation that covers their accident-related expenses. Of course, to obtain a favorable case result, your legal team need to prove 7 critical facts:

  1. The property owner should have known that children could trespass on their property.
  2. The child is too young to recognize the risks associated with trespassing.
  3. The child is too young to recognize the risks associated with the object of attraction.
  4. The property owner failed to maintain their property.
  5. The property owner knew (or should have known) that there was a dangerous element on their land.
  6. The property owner failed to fix, barricade, and/or remedy the dangerous element.
  7. The cost of addressing the dangerous element is minor compared to the risk it poses to children.

Discuss Your Case with an Experienced Premises Liability Lawyer Today!

Contact the premises liability lawyers at Michael J. Doyle, Attorney at Law if your child suffered injuries while exploring someone’s property. Our legal team can investigate your case and help you pursue a settlement or verdict that facilitates your child’s recovery.

Contact Michael J. Doyle, Attorney at Law at (505) 219-2176 to arrange a free consultation today.

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