Dangerous Property Hazards
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Joel H. Siegal with Siegal & Richardson.
Property owners and managers, business owners, and landlords are all required to ensure a basic level of safety for people passing through or residing on the premises. Whether this refers to visitors, tenants, employees, customers, or simply passersby, if someone is injured due to a preventable hazard, the party responsible for the property could be liable. While there are many ways for injuries to occur, certain property hazards are more common than others; the good news is that the commonality of these hazards allows for property managers, businesses, etc. to guard against them using reasonable safety measures.
Dangerous property hazards to guard against include but are not necessarily limited to:
- Cracks in pavement
- Broken or rotting stairways
- Broken or missing railings and/or barriers
- Broken fences
- Broken kennels and frayed leashes
- Broken locks
- Lack of fence or gate around the pool or potentially dangerous features
- Sharp or broken counters
- Exposed wires
- Tree roots or other overgrowth into walkways
- Icy walkways
- Lack of signage
- Missing or faded signs
- Inadequate lighting
- Poor security
Private and commercial property owners alike can be liable in the event of a premises liability accident.
It can be easy to forget that everyone is responsible for the safety of someone on their property. This rule applies to private homeowners as well as owners and managers of commercial properties. However, the type of property hazards present on private property may differ from those found on commercial property. For example, a private residence with a pool in the backyard should have some form of security around it to prevent neighboring children or animals from wandering in; however, pool hazards are not as common for commercial properties.
Similarly, commercial properties typically need to put more of a focus on security measures like adequate lighting and security staff to decrease the likelihood of assault and other crimes on their property. That said, many hazards are present on all types of property and need to be adequately guarded against. If a dangerous condition exists due to something broken or in need of maintenance, it is the property owner’s responsibility to have the condition repaired as soon as possible. Failing to repair a hazardous condition in a timely manner can open up a property owner to even more liability in the event of an injury. Similarly, performing a sloppy repair that doesn’t fully correct the problem will not be much help.
Property owners and businesses can protect themselves by being proactive.
While it is not possible to prevent every injury, property owners and businesses can protect themselves by taking active steps to increase safety on their premises. Waiting until after an injury occurs won’t do anything to help your liability, especially if your preemptive attention could have reasonably prevented the injury from occurring.
The biggest question a jury is going to ask in the event of a premises liability lawsuit is whether or not the property owner should reasonably have been aware of the hazard and taken measures to correct it before the injury occurred. Seasonal hazards need to be predicted and treated accordingly and anything that is broken needs to be fixed as quickly and correctly as possible. If someone has suffered or nearly suffered an injury due to one or more conditions on the premises, those conditions need to be correct as quickly as possible.
To learn more about common property hazards or for help filing a claim if you have been injured due to hazardous conditions on a property, reach out to a premises liability attorney in your area.