There is no specific amount of time that a hazard needs to be present for a property owner to be found liable. Once a property owner is aware of a hazard and the injuries it can inflict on another, the hazard should be resolved within a reasonable amount of time. The time it takes to fix a hazard varies. If the issue is a quick fix, it should be remedied as soon as possible to avoid injuring someone.
For example, if liquid spills somewhere on the property and can cause an invitee to slip and fall, this mess must be cleaned up as soon as it is noticed. If the property owner is aware of this mess and neglects to take care of it and a guest slips and falls, the owner can be held liable for not attending to the hazard when they should have.
If the railing along a staircase is broken, this problem is likely not going to be solved as soon as it takes to wipe up a mess. However, as long as a property owner has plans to fix such a hazard and it is dealt with sooner than later, they are fulfilling the duty of care they owe their guests.
The Importance of Resolving a Hazard within a Reasonable Amount of Time
For lawful purposes, the property one owns should be free of hazards. If a property owner fails to respond to a hazard within a reasonable amount of time, they can be found negligent and face a premises liability lawsuit against them. An injury victim may be entitled to compensation if they suffered harm at the hands of a property owner who neglected to protect them from harm.
A property owner is required to make continuous efforts to upkeep their property and maintain safety for those invited. When someone is legally on another’s property and encounters a hazard that injures them, they may wonder if the hazard was present long enough for the owner to know about it and correct it in order to prevent harm.
If the plaintiff can prove that the property owner must have been aware of the hazard and chose not to fix it within a reasonable timeframe – resulting in a guest getting hurt – the owner may be held accountable for their negligence. It is possible for the property owner to have a valid reason for not fixing the hazard, but there is typically a way for the property owner to ensure safety regardless, by either blocking off a hazard or at the very least informing a guest of the danger it poses.
The Four Factors of Negligence
If someone decides to file a premises liability lawsuit against a property owner, they must prove the following four tenets of negligence in order to have a successful case:
- Duty of Care: The property owner owed the victim a duty of care. They were obligated to keep the premises safe for all who legally enter.
- Breach of Duty of Care: The property owner breached their duty of care. They failed to fulfill their requirement to maintain their property, which created a hazard.
- Causation: The property owner’s negligence caused a guest’s injury. For example, the owner had broken steps and did not repair them in a reasonable amount of time, therefore, someone tripped and fell and hurt themselves.
- Damages: The plaintiff sustained injuries due to falling, such as a broken arm. This situation can be remedied by pursuing financial recovery to compensate them for medical expenses and loss of income.
While there is no definitive answer for how long a hazard needs to be present for a property owner to be found liable, the owner must be aware of what needs attention and must remedy all hazards to be sure no one gets hurt on their property.
George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers Handles Premises Liability Cases
If you suffered injuries on someone’s property due to their negligence, you may be entitled to compensatory damages (“the sum of money the law imposes for a breach of some duty or violation of some right,” according to the Legal Information Institute (LII)). We work on a contingency-fee-basis, so there is no fee unless we win your case.* For your free consultation, call today.