Dangerous Condition Cases
A person should be able to enter the property of another and not worry about being injured. If a condition on the land hurt you, it is possible to recover money for the injury incurred. The property owner or possessor can be responsible for damages caused by conditions on their land.
What is a Dangerous Condition?
Most people think of broken stairs or slippery floors as a dangerous condition. However, there are many more conditions considered to be hazardous, including:
● Lack of or defective handrails on stairs
● Low lighting near a stairwell
● Lack of floor mats on a slippery floor
● Falling objects, such as food items from shelves or decorative items on walls
● Tree roots or uneven sidewalks
● Fallen power lines
Liability for a Dangerous Condition
1. Prior Knowledge
The first and most important aspect of a dangerous condition case is knowledge. A plaintiff must prove the landowner knew or should have known about the hazardous condition. When a landowner knows a person will be on their land, they must inspect for any dangerous conditions. Once the owner discovers a hazardous condition, they must take steps to prevent it from causing injury. The owner can either repair the hazardous condition or warn the visitors on their land of the issues.
2. Normal Conditions
The owner must have been able to anticipate the accident arising from the condition. In other terms, the injured person must have been acting in a way that an average person would have. For example, a person could not recover for injuries suffered while sliding down the stairs and getting hurt. Stairs are meant to be walked down, and therefore any injury sustained while sliding down them is not foreseeable.
3. Foreseeable Damages
Lastly, the owner of the property is not responsible for injuries to trespassers. An owner could not have foreseen a trespasser would be on their land. Therefore they can’t be accountable for damages suffered. There are some exceptions, and the owner is responsible if they discover the trespasser or should have anticipated the trespasser. Once found, a landowner must warn the trespasser of the dangerous condition but don’t have to fix it. An owner should anticipate trespassers if they own an attractive property, such as an amusement park, or if they had frequent trespassers in the past.
Was your or a loved one injured in a swimming pool? You could be eligible for compensation under the premises liability law. Learn more about swimming pool injuries through our articles or reach out to one of our million-dollar lawyers today.
Open and Obvious Defense to Dangerous Conditions
A landowner is not responsible for any injuries suffered from an obvious danger. If the dangerous condition is such that a reasonable person would know to avoid it, no recovery is allowed for a resulting injury. Here, the danger is so apparent that the landowner has no duty to fix it or warn of it because a visitor should recognize the danger. For example, if a staircase is split in two, a person should know not to climb it.
However, a landowner can still be responsible if the obvious condition violates a statute. Typically a landowner is automatically responsible for any dangerous condition that violates a health or safety statute.
Who Can Be Sued for Dangerous Conditions?
In all situations, the injured party should sue the owner of the property. If the person who controls or occupies the property is different than the owner, you should sue both your injuries. These people can include a property manager or tenant. In an apartment or commercial building, the tenant is only responsible for their area. Therefore, if you are injured in a general area such as the stairwell or foyer, the landlord, property manager, or owner will be responsible.
Steps To Take For a Dangerous Conditions Lawsuit
A plaintiff will not have to be overly involved in the lawsuit. Once the case has is filed, you will move into the discovery stage. During this time, your attorney will receive requests for information from the defendant’s attorney. Many times, your attorney will be contacting you to collect the information required to respond. You will also have to attend a deposition, where the other side will ask you questions about the accident and your injuries.
Once the discovery process is over, then the sides will truly begin negotiating. Your attorney is required to advise you of any offer the defense makes, and you have the final say. If you cannot reach an agreement, the sides will move forward to court assisted settlement discussions involving mediations or settlement conferences with the court. If these options fail, then the court will order an arbitration or have a trial.
Finding The Right Lawyer For Your Dangerous Conditions Case
Before jumping into the lawsuit, it is smart to consult with a personal injury attorney. Most personal injury law firms handle dangerous conditions lawsuits, making picking an attorney difficult because there are so many options. There are big firms, small firms, sole practitioners, and the dreaded settlement mills. Please do your homework before settling on an attorney and make sure it’s the right fit for you.