Improper Maintenance No Excuse for Those Injured in San Francisco Falls
Property Owners May Be Held Liable for Balcony Collapses and Slip and Fall Accidents
Trip or slip and fall accidents happen way too frequently in San Francisco. Falls down a flight of stairs or from a balcony can easily result in serious injuries like broken bones and traumatic brain injuries. People may even die when balconies collapse.Wherever they take place, whether at the home or apartment of an acquaintance, or at a business – like a hotel or grocery store – individuals may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. Premises liability lawsuits are a means for those people injured to hold responsible parties accountable for their negligence.Establishing Property Owner NegligenceIn order to prove that a property owner or responsible party was negligent and liable for the slip and fall injuries, a person has to prove four things:
- A dangerous condition was present
- The property owner or responsible person knew of or had reason to know that dangerous condition existed
- The property owner or responsible person failed to act or take action to fix or warn the injured person about the dangerous condition
- That dangerous condition caused the accident and subsequent injury
Whenever a space is open to the public, like a hotel, the owner has a duty to make sure that those public places are free of dangerous or hazardous conditions that could cause injury to someone.
Landlords have the duty to conduct periodic inspections to make sure dangerous conditions do not exist and when they are discovered, to take action to fix them.
Liability is founded on the fact that a duty existed to keep people safe, and the breach of that duty resulted in a person getting hurt. Dangerous conditions are frequently behind these kinds of breaches.
Dangerous conditions can be almost any abnormality in what would otherwise be the safe condition of a staircase or other flooring. Common dangerous conditions that might cause people to slip or trip and fall on stairs – either indoor or outdoor – include:
- Unevenly spaced steps
- Worn or torn carpet
- Worn or rounded wood steps
- Freshly mopped or waxed steps
- Cracked or damaged steps
- Natural conditions such as ice, snow or water
- Spills or loose debris
- Broken or missing handrails
- Unsafe conditions caused by rotting or termites
In San Francisco, balcony injury accidents such as collapses are often caused by these dangerous conditions.
It isn’t enough that a dangerous condition caused the slip or trip and fall. The property owner or person in control of the premises must know or should have been aware of and fail to warn of or correct the condition. There are several ways in which it can be proven that the dangerous condition was known:
- The dangerous condition was created by the owner of the property;
- The dangerous condition was known but never corrected or fixed; or
- The dangerous condition was present for a period of time long enough that they owner should have discovered and corrected it.
This element suggests that there is a level of negligence on the part of the property owner in respect to the dangerous condition that may not be known by or anticipated by the injured person. Meaning, the property owners may be liable if he or she did not reasonably inspect the property for conditions that may be dangerous to others, and then did not take actions to fix or replace the dangerous conditions found, such as a loose handrail or a balcony with rotting wood or termite damage.
But, this also means that there are circumstances when an injured party may not be able to hold the property owner liable, such as for obviously dangerous conditions. If a dangerous condition that is obvious or foreseeable to the injured person, such as the likelihood that stairs may be slippery while it is snowing or sleeting, then the injured person may not be able to hold the property owner liable for the injuries suffered.
Upkeep Can Present Dangers
While many injury accidents occur when people slip and fall on property that is improperly kept or faulty, dangerous conditions that lead to injuries can also exist when property owners are trying to do the right thing by keeping their property safe, such as when they are performing repairs.
When dangerous conditions are present, property owners have a duty to warn of them. Many methods of keeping property in safe condition present dangerous conditions, such as slipping hazards when a floor is freshly mopped or waxed. A property owner can be held liable for injuries when they fail to warn of or cordon off wet floors or other conditions that present a slipping or tripping danger.
Whether a person is able to hold a property owner liable for injuries suffered because of a tumble down the stairs or other slip or trip and fall will be depend on the specific facts of the situation. Did the property owner know of the dangerous condition? Should they have? Was the dangerous condition obvious to the injured person? Questions such of these will need to be addressed.
If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries after slipping or tripping and falling on stair or just on the property of another or place of business, speak to an experienced San Francisco personal injury attorney about seeking compensation for the injuries suffered. An attorney can help you seek compensation for medical bills, long-term care, and pain and suffering.