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Kids

My neighbor's kids are constantly yelling and screaming as they play outside my home office. What can I do?

You were a kid once, so you need to realize that kids are going to make noise at some time or another. If the kids are making noise during the day, there is not very much you can do about it (other than shut your windows or buy some heavy-duty earplugs). On the other hand, if the kids are making noise very early in the morning or very late at night, they might be in violation of noise ordinances. If this is the case, you should do the following:

  • Study your local ordinances to make sure that a noise ordinance relating to noise exists in your area.
  • Talk to your neighbor about the problem and reference the noise ordinance to make your point.
  • If your problem still is not solved, you might try mediation.
  • If mediation does not fix the problem, you should contact your police department to lodge a complaint.
  • In a worst-case scenario, you can sue your neighbor for monetary damages in small claims court.

I just put in a new pool. What are my legal responsibilities as they relate to kids?

Kids are often attracted to pools, swing sets, machinery or stacks of lumber or other building supplies. According to laws that are commonly lumped under the doctrine of "attractive nuisance," you must take extra care to prevent children from being injured (or worse) if they come onto your property. If you fail to take extra care (e.g., fencing a pool, locking your gates) you are usually liable for the injuries a child incurs on your property.

What about natural features, such as a lake, on my property?

In most cases, you will only be liable if you create or maintain the "attractive nuisance."

So, do I have to childproof my property?

No, but you have to make a reasonable attempt to protect children from these potential dangers. Check your local ordinances for more information on the regulation of objects that are dangerous to children.

The neighbor boys were playing catch and broke my window. What are my legal rights?

You have a right to obtain compensation for the damage to your property. This may be obtained by either talking with the boys' parents to ask for compensation, bringing in a mediator to help you resolve the situation, contacting the police to file a damage report or seeking financial compensation via small claims court.