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Is there an obligation on the owner to maintain a property in a reasonably safe condition? - Real Life Stories: Dangerous Property

Posted by Scott M. Peterson | Nov 14, 2018

We were recently staying at a nice hotel with our family. I was speaking at an event and we decided to make a weekend of the trip.

One day we decided to take a walk with our kids.  The hotel that we were staying at had a large staircase that kind of led down to the street below.

We are walking down the staircase and my son Miles stops, looks at us and says “Dad, you know these stairs are really dangerous. They're extremely slippery. They are crumbling beneath us and I feel like if somebody falls you should sue them.” (*Note: This kind of statement only happens when you have two parents who are lawyers. But what he was saying is actually correct.)

If you're walking outside, down the street or or down a set of stairs at a hotel or public facility, there is an obligation on the owner of that facility to maintain that property in a reasonably safe condition. This means is that if they are aware, or should be aware, of a condition that is dangerous, they have an obligation to correct it. In the case of the stairs, if they were slippery because they were out of code, because they were old or because they had snow or ice on them that had not been maintained, the owner would generally be obligated to take the steps necessary to perform repairs and return them to a safe condition. If the owner fails to do that and somebody falls, the owner may be held responsible for those injuries.

So, next time you're walking down the street and you see something that's dangerous, it's probably a good idea to notify the owner so that they can have an opportunity to repair the condition and prevent someone from getting hurt.  If you find yourself in the unfortunate position where you've been hurt or one of your family members has been hurt because a dangerous condition on property, you'll want to think about whether the owner allowed a dangerous condition to exist without repair.  

Accidents that occur on as a result of poorly maintained property can lead to severe and permanent injuries (and occasionally, death).  We see this all the time, and have had some very unfortunate cases come through our firm over the years.  Most of them were entirely preventable.

About the Author

Scott M. Peterson

Scott M. Peterson is the founding partner of D'Orazio Peterson, having left a partnership at a large regional law firm to limit his practice and focus on helping people protect their families.

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