Owning a home or business is the American dream. However, becoming a property owner subjects you to premises liability lawsuits. A premises liability lawsuit is when a person is injured while visiting your property and sues you for damages. This guide compiles a list of things that you can do as a property owner to protect yourself from an expensive premises liability lawsuit.
Make Prompt Repairs
Repairs are a common part of property ownership. However, before inviting visitors to your property, make sure you take care of all necessary repairs. This includes removing loose nails, fixing floorboards, or replacing rotted wood steps. Consider all the ways in which someone may be injured on your property.
If you hire a maintenance professional to take care of these repairs, make sure you keep a record of phone calls and scheduled appointments. In the meantime, ensure guests and visitors are aware of any danger risks.
Keep Up With Routine Maintenance
Routine maintenance can also help protect you from a premises liability lawsuit. Keeping up with lawn care and minor repairs prevents normal home damages from becoming a potential hazard. Routine maintenance may also include removing snow from walkways and icing slippery driveways during winter.
However, it’s important to note that routine maintenance may not remove the need for property repairs. You’ll still want to be aware of any dangers that may arise on your property.
Get Rid of Obvious Obstacles
Getting rid of obvious obstacles, especially before a large event or social gathering, can also help remove some of your risks. Ensure your outdoor pool is well covered before inviting guests for a nighttime party. Make sure you have a sturdy fence surrounding your pool or lake access to prevent neighborhood kids from falling in. Other obvious obstacles may include repairing sidewalks or cutting down a large tree that will likely fall soon.
Install Interior and Exterior Cameras
Interior and exterior cameras can help you review what happened if someone is injured while on your property. Drop cameras can also help you identify potential risks when you’re away from a property for a long period of time. If someone wrongfully claims negligence after an injury on your property, you can also use the videos as evidence. Exterior cameras on a commercial building may also deter crime, which could harm visitors.
Routinely Inspect Your Property
It can be helpful to get in the habit of routinely inspecting your property. This allows you to pinpoint potential repairs or dangerous hazards before others do. Keeping your property safe for even unintended visitors can help prevent an expensive lawsuit. If you own a commercial property, train your employees to conduct a routine inspection of the building on a regular basis.
Notify Visitors of Potential Hazards
It’s not realistic that you can handle all repairs immediately after damages occur. However, if you’re aware of a potential hazard and haven’t yet had the chance to schedule repairs, notify any visitors. A wet floor sign is a good example of warning others of potential hazards.
Even if your staff are able to wipe up spills promptly, they may leave behind water, which can make the floors slippery. Notifying your visitors of the potential hazard may remove some of your liability. Signs are an excellent way to notify visitors of potential hazards. Clearly state the risks associated with your property.
Ensure Sufficient Lighting
Decreased visibility at night can pose a safety risk to visitors. Make sure your property has sufficient lighting to avoid accidents. Install lights on the front and rear entrances of your building, and make sure the pathway to your driveway or parking lot is well-lit. Poor lighting can also lead to theft and criminal behaviors.
Know When to Contact a Lawyer
The best way to protect yourself after a slip and fall accident occurs is to contact a lawyer. An accident can occur on your property, even when you do everything possible to maintain a safe environment. A premises liability claim is usually expensive and can damage your reputation.
Most states require premises liability lawsuits to prove injury, owner awareness, and a lack of action. By keeping up with prompt repairs and routine maintenance, you can demonstrate that you took the necessary action to ensure your property was safe for all visitors. For repairs you couldn’t yet tackle, demonstrating proof that you notified guests may reduce your liability.
With some preparation and caution, you can enjoy residential or commercial property ownership without fearing a lawsuit. Get in the habit of routine inspections and regular maintenance to keep your property safe for visitors. If you experience an injury visitor, reach out to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.