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Article: What’s a hazardous condition? Who’s responsible for it?

What’s a hazardous condition? Who’s responsible for it?

If you are legally on real estate that is owned or occupied by somebody else, and you are injured as a result of a dangerous condition on that property, that owner or occupier could be held liable for damages. That’s known as the law of premises liability.

Slip and falls and trip and falls
We usually see premises liability arise in the context of slip and falls or trip and falls that are caused by dangerous conditions that an owner or occupier of land knew or should have known about. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), slips occur when there is insufficient friction between a person’s footwear and the surface he or she is walking on, and a fall results. They might be seen under circumstances when there are:

  • Wet or oily floors
  • Spills
  • Snow, ice or rainwater
  • Unsecured rugs or mats
  • Areas with different degrees of traction

On the other hand, the CCOHS advises that trips occur when a person’s foot hits an object that causes him or her to lose their balance and fall. Trips might commonly result from:

  • Clutter or obstructions on floors
  • Obstructed views
  • Poor lighting
  • Wrinkled carpeting
  • Uneven walking surfaces

Elevator accidents
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 30 people die every year in elevator accidents, and another 17,000 are injured. Some common causes of elevator accidents involve:

  • Sudden stopping and acceleration
  • Misalignment of doors and floors
  • Doors closing too quickly
  • Inadequate periodic maintenance or repairs

Escalator accidents
Clothing, footwear and even body parts can get caught in the teeth of an escalator. This is a special concern with children. Riders get jostled and thrown with sudden starting and stopping. Escalators can even catch fire from oil and debris that accumulates below their moving parts. In 1987, an escalator fire killed 31 people in Great Britain.

Dog attacks
About 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year, and about half of those victims are children. Dogs don’t get one free bite in Arizona. Regardless of whether a dog owner knew or should have known that his or her dog was dangerous, Arizona law provides that dog owners are liable for any attacks by their pets. Victims need only show that they weren’t trespassing or provoking the dog.

Swimming pool accidents
About 65 percent of all submersion and drowning accidents occur at home. Most involve children between one and three years of age. Swimming pool injuries can occur in any number of ways. Just a few common examples of dangerous swimming pool conditions are:

  • Shallow diving areas
  • Inadequate adult supervision
  • Negligently maintained drain covers
  • Insufficient traction for walking or running on pool decks

Trampolines
As per USA Today, a study by the Indiana University School of Medicine concluded that between 2002 and 2011, backyard trampolines accounted for over 1 million emergency room visits with about 289,000 fractures. About 95 percent of those fractures occurred at the injured person’s home. Elbow and knee fractures were the most common. Most of those fractures required surgery. Many homeowners insurance companies specifically exclude backyard trampolines from coverage. Dangerous conditions involving backyard trampolines involve:

  • No safety nets
  • Safety nets that are not intended for bouncing
  • Placing trampolines on uneven surfaces
  • Decayed or degraded jumping surfaces

Negligent or inadequate security
An owner or occupier of property can be held liable for negligent or inadequate security that might have prevented a reasonably foreseeable criminal attack by a third party. The general rule is that the owner or occupier of real estate is not a guarantor of safety against criminal acts that might occur on their property. The exception to the rule turns on whether there was a history of prior similar crimes on or near the premises that the owner or occupier knew or should have known about. Each premises is different, but adequate security measures might consist of identity checks, trained security guards, patrols, sufficient lighting and working locks.

Our attorney team litigates severe personal injury and wrongful death cases in Maricopa County and throughout Arizona. Owners and occupiers of real estate have a duty to repair or warn of any dangerous conditions that they knew or should have known about in order to prevent injury to others who are lawfully on that property. When the owner and occupier of property are two different people or entities, we generally look to whoever had control of the real estate for purposes of determining primary liability. If you were injured, or if a member of your family died as a result of a dangerous condition on property owned or occupied by somebody else, contact the personal injury team of Lamber Goodnow at 602-910-2566. We’re pleased to provide you with a free consultation and case evaluation. You don’t need a penny to retain us either. No legal fees are due unless we obtain a settlement or verdict for you.

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