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Attractive Nuisance Cases Summarized By Personal Injury Lawyer

This page within Virginia Tort Case Law is a compilation of cases reported by the Virginia Supreme Court and summarized by injury attorney Brien Roche dealing with the topic of Attractive Nuisance and the related topic of personal injury.  

Attractive Nuisance Explained

The concept of Attractive Nuisance deals with instruments that are known to be attractive to children, the instrument is known to be dangerous to children and is in a location where children conceivably could have access to it. Although the general principle may have some application in Virginia there is a 1948 case that expressly indicates that the principle has been repudiated in Virginia. Although Virginia has never formally adopted the principle, it still has application in those instances where the particular instrument is hidden or the danger is latent but it is still easily accessible to children and in a location where it is known that children frequently gather. In some instances it may be negligence to have on the premises instruments which contain concealed dangers when handled by one that is unfamiliar with the danger. In one reported case from 1948, the so-called hidden danger was a quarry pond. Even though the precise depth of the quarry pond may not have been readily visible, it certainly should have been known that a body of water such as that is potentially dangerous and the danger associated with it certainly is not hidden or latent.

Attractive Nuisance Cases

1993 Grim v. Rahe, Inc., 246 Va. 239, 434 S.E.2d 888.

Minor plaintiff injured when he touched defective light fixture. Plaintiff claimed that broken light fixture was dangerous instrumentality and, therefore, defendant was required to exercise high degree of care. In order for this doctrine to apply, instrumentality must not only be hidden or latent, but instrumentality must be easily accessible to children and in location where it is known that children frequently gather. That was not established in this case.

1972 Norfolk S. Ry. v. Fincham, 213 Va. 122, 189 S.E.2d 380.

(Not true attractive nuisance case.) Minor plaintiff injured when railroad car in railway yard ran over him crushing his right leg. Duty owed to trespasser, whose presence is known or ought to be known, is one of ordinary care to avoid injury to him. Railroad does not owe trespasser duty of prevision or preparation for his discovery.

1948 Washabaugh v. Northern Va. Constr. Co., 187 Va. 767, 48 S.E.2d 276.

Landowner may be liable if danger of instrument not only is hidden, but object is easily accessible to children and in location where it is known children frequently gather. Hidden depth of quarry pond is natural and obvious and therefore not attractive nuisance. Doctrine of attractive nuisance has been repudiated in Virginia. However, it may be negligence to have on premises instruments which contain concealed dangers when handled by one unfamiliar with use.

1945 Big Stone Gap v. Johnson, 184 Va. 375, 35 S.E.2d 71.

Elements: (1) instrument known to be attractive to children, (2) instrument known to be dangerous to children. In this case there was no showing that town employees knew or should have known that road grader was attractive to children or that it was dangerous to children.

1944 Baecher v. McFarland, 183 Va. 1, 31 S.E.2d 279.

Minor plaintiff cut on barbed wire on defendant’s property. Plaintiff was trespasser. Fence with barbed wire merely created condition which child used, resulting in accident.

1943 Dennis v. Odend’Hal-Monks Corp., 182 Va. 77, 28 S.E.2d 4.

Acid left on truck. Infant plaintiff consumed acid. Plaintiff contended this was attractive nuisance. Supreme Court found actions of plaintiff unforeseeable.

For more information on attractive nuisance issues see the page on Wikipedia

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Attractive Nuisance Cases Summarized By Personal Injury Lawyer

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