Trespassing vs. Legal Entry: Attractive Nuisance

A homeowner has legal obligations to ensure the safety of invited guests who are swimming in their pool. But what if the person who drowned was on the property illegally? Most premises liability laws exempt homeowners of responsibility if a trespasser suffers injuries on their property. However, there’s an exception to this law when children are involved. Because children don’t often have the same understanding of property barriers and danger, property owners in Rhode Island can be liable if a child trespasses due to an “attractive nuisance.”

In general, an attractive nuisance is any dangerous object that might entice a child and draw them onto your property. This includes a swimming pool. Property owners must take steps to ensure that young children attracted to the pool don’t drown. If a child does drown and those steps weren’t taken, a wrongful death claim can be made against the homeowner. These steps include:

  • talking to neighboring parents about the pool and what they’ve done to secure it from children
  • building a fence around the pool that meets all state and local regulations
  • ensuring that all locks on the gates and fences work properly  
  • installing floodlights and/or an alarm system around the pool
  • making water rescue equipment readily available

Steps to Take After a Loved One Drowns

If someone you love drowns in a pool accident on someone else’s property, there is evidence you can gather that may help prove negligence on the part of the homeowner in a wrongful death claim. This evidence includes:

Photos of the accident scene.

Try to take as many pictures as possible where the accident occurred. You should capture the inside and outside of the pool, the surrounding area, any fences, gates and locks, and any signage around the pool area.

Items of evidence.

If blow-up toys, defective products, or other items were involved in the accident, take these with you when you leave. If the property owner wants to keep them, be sure to tell an attorney about this evidence.

Documentation of what happened.

It’s important to document all the injuries your loved one may have suffered as the drowning occurred. Citing details about how the drowning happened is especially important. Additionally, you should write down how you believe the homeowner was negligent. This can help if you file a wrongful death claim. 

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Christopher L. Russo
Helping Rhode Island personal injury victims for nearly three decades to get the compensation they deserve.
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