Property owners and businesses have a duty to ensure the safety of any guest, client, or patron that comes on their property. If the person in control of the property knows about a hazardous condition on the property then they are required to take adequate steps to fix the dangerous condition or post clear and obvious warnings so that any visitor has notice of the dangerous condition. If a landlord or business fails to make adequate remedies or post adequate notice and someone sustains an injury because of the hazardous condition then the landowner or business will be liable for the injuries. [Read more about Duty Of Care, Duty To Warn, Duty To Maintain]
Hidden Dangers May Reduce Property Owner Liability
However, some dangerous conditions on the property are hidden and not easily noticed. If a hazardous condition is hidden so that the landlord or business did not have knowledge or any reason to notice the dangerous condition then they might not be responsible for any injuries sustained by a guest.
As a result, a property owner or business isn’t necessarily legally liable for every injury sustained by a guest on the property. The courts will generally look at couple things when determining the liability of a landowner. Courts will ask:
- Whether the dangerous condition was known to the landowner, or would it have been known if the landowner exercised reasonable diligence and care in inspecting and maintaining the premises; and
- Whether the property owner took reasonable steps to fix the hazardous condition or warn potential visitors of the dangerous condition. The court will look at what it costs the landowner in money to fix the dangerous condition. If the potential injury to a visitor is foreseeable and it is likely that any injury would be serious then the landlord is required to spend more money to go to greater lengths to try and prevent the foreseeable serious injury from occurring.
Example Of Owner Liability: A Broken Step At The Top Of A Staircase Causes A Visitor To Fall And Get Injured
In the above situation example, the dangerous condition is out in the open. When the landlord or business owner walks up the staircase it’s reasonable to assume that they would notice the broken step. If they use that staircase frequently it is likely that they actually noticed the broken step and if they did not notice the broken step then they should have noticed it because they used the staircase frequently and likely and should have encountered the broken step during one of their several trips up or down the stairs.
Second, it would cost very little to repair a step at the top of a staircase. Especially in light of the fact that it is foreseeable that a visitor going down the stairs would likely fall and get hurt and that a fall down a full flight of stairs would likely result in serious injuries.
In this scenario either the landlord knew about the dangerous step and did nothing to fix it or he did not know about the dangerous step but he should have because he used the staircase frequently. So he had notice either way. Secondly, the cost of repairing the step is minimal in light of the likelihood that a visitor would trip and fall down the stairs and get injured. Lastly, it is likely that the injuries from such a fall would be serious.
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If you slipped or tripped and fell down the stairs and suffered a serious injury, call our professional slip and fall accident attorneys today at (508) 588-0422 and schedule a free no-obligation consultation or use our convenient contact form to tell us about your situation.
Types of Injuries Caused By Slip And Fall Accidents
- Arm and Elbow Injuries
- Broken Bones and Fractures
- Cervical Sprain/Strain Injuries
- Lumbar/Lower Back Strain/Sprain Injuries
- Ligament, Tendon, And Muscle Injuries
- Shoulder Injuries
Our snow and ice slip and fall injury lawyers assist accident victims throughout all of Massachusetts including but not limited to Plymouth County, Brockton, Plymouth, Bridgewater, Marshfield, Hingham, Duxbury, Wareham, Abington, Rockland, Whitman, Hanson, Holbrook, Middleborough; Norfolk County including Quincy, Stoughton, Dedham, Weymouth, Braintree, Avon, Holbrook, Randolph, Canton, Sharon, Brookline, Franklin; Bristol County including New Bedford, Fall River, Taunton, Attleboro, Mansfield, Easton, Raynham, Lakeville, Norton; Cape Cod, Hyannis, Falmouth, Barnstable and the Greater Boston area including Cambridge, Somerville, Medford, Everett, Lawrence, Lynn, Revere, Dorchester, Roxbury.