Attractive nuisances are conditions on a property that entice trespassers to enter. Children are of particular concern when it comes to members of the public entering unsafe places and getting injured. Cases can arise from children trespassing and drowning in public swimming pools, or climbing over fences and getting injured by horses.
When it comes to properties under construction, an active or vacant site can also contain attractive nuisances that draw children and pose a threat to their safety. If children trespass onsite due to a lack of safety precautions, the general contractor on the site can be held liable for any injuries they sustain.
Attractive Nuisances on Construction Sites
Children are in danger at construction sites because they can climb on unstable surfaces, play on heavy equipment, and fall into man-made ditches. Contractors should do everything in their power to prevent young trespassers from entering their property.
If you suspect children or any other member of the public have any reason to trespass onto your construction site, treat the problem with the utmost seriousness. Inaction creates a serious risk and liability for your company if trespassers enter and get hurt.
Negligence in Attractive Nuisance Cases
Negligence can be determined as the cause of attractive nuisance cases when a contractor knew that dangerous conditions existed; but did nothing to prevent an accident. It is less likely that you will be found negligent if you take all necessary measures to prevent injuries on the job site.
When is a Contractor Liable for an Attractive Nuisance Injury?
The presence of certain conditions is necessary to hold a general contractor responsible for the injuries of a child.
- The contractor knew that a dangerous condition existed on the premises, and that there was a possibility children could trespass and get hurt.
- The child was too young to realize that the condition was dangerous.
- In comparison to the risk the child faced, the removal of the dangerous condition would have been a small burden.
- The contractor knew, or should have known, that the dangerous condition would pose a significant risk to a child.
- The contractor failed to remove the dangerous condition or otherwise protect the child.
Commercial General Liability (CGL) Policy
Contractors are generally covered by the CGL policy in case of bodily injury or property damage. The CGL policy will provide some liability coverage if an attractive nuisance in the construction area injures a child or other member of the public. Maintaining safe conditions on a construction site should be the top priority. While a CGL policy can provide coverage for injuries due to an attractive nuisance, the CGL policy should be viewed as a safety net against claims, not as the main solution to problems of attractive nuisances.
Contractors still need to be responsible for job site safety of both employees and the public. This will have the benefit of longer-term, lower insurance costs as well if they manage their insurance risks and exposures.
How Can You Make Your Construction Site Safe?
In order to protect yourself and your company against nuisance claims, you should install signage around dangerous conditions warning trespassers of their risks. If possible, surround the work site with fencing. At the end of each workday, turn off machines, clear out debris, and remove anything else that poses a threat to safety. Communicate clearly with subcontractors and suppliers on safe work practices.
Contractors must also ensure that the property is maintained and secure for all visitors so that they remain safe. Examples include:
- Keeping walkways free of cracks and gaps to prevent slip and falls.
- Securing equipment, chemicals, and tools.
- Installing wireless electronic alarms or security doors and screens.
- Assuring the safety of employees while they perform work duties.
- Installing flood lights in areas with poor visibility.
- Having rescue equipment ready for emergencies.
Contact our Construction Law Attorneys for Guidance
Get in touch with our construction law attorneys at Morefield Speicher Bachman, LC today if you are being sued in an attractive nuisance claim. Our defense team can provide a number of options for you in court. You should act promptly to put yourself and your construction company in a good position. Contact our team at (913) 839 2808 to set up a time to speak with an attorney.