Accidents on properties often occur because of hazards like slippery floors, uneven surfaces or poorly maintained spaces. The injuries from such circumstances can range from minor bruises to severe fractures, impacting the injured person physically and emotionally.
The aftermath can involve medical expenses, pain and potential loss of income due to recovery time. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discovered the costs due to falls alone totaled over $50 billion. As such, anyone who experiences such an incident should understand when the property owner is responsible for injuries and owes damages.
The duty of care of property owners
The concept of the duty of care governs a property owner’s responsibility for injuries to lawful visitors. That duty of care involves keeping a location safe for everyone on the premises.
As such, the owner must take reasonable steps to prevent accidents or injuries on their property. If a property owner does not take these steps and someone gets hurt due to that negligence, the court could hold the owner responsible for covering the injured person’s losses.
Reasonable steps to keep a property safe
Properly maintaining a property often involves regular inspections to identify and address potential hazards promptly. Adequate maintenance, such as repairing uneven surfaces and promptly cleaning spills, is a common example. Additionally, installing proper lighting and signage to warn visitors about potential dangers contributes to meeting the duty of care.
Certain precautions may be specific to the type of property or the kind of business on the premises. For example, a construction site must implement barriers and signage to demarcate hazardous zones. The crew should also properly store materials and dispose of waste.
Hazards that fall outside of a property owner’s duty of care
On the other hand, the courts will not hold property owners responsible for unforeseeable or uncontrollable threats. For example, the owner is not responsible for acts of nature that injure a person on the property, such as a sudden storm or earthquake.
Also, owners are not typically liable for criminal activities by third parties on the property, such as theft or assault. Furthermore, when another party rents or leases the property, that person or entity typically assumes the responsibility of the duty of care.
However, if an owner’s negligence somehow contributed to a person’s injuries, the owner might still be responsible and owe damages. For instance, if a storm knocks over a tree that was already a hazard, a person who sustains injuries from the event might be able to argue that the owner is liable.
In all cases, a careful consideration of the facts after an accident on someone else’s property can help an injured person determine which parties are responsible.