Can I Sue My Homeowners Association After a Slip and Fall Accident?
Posted in Lawsuit on November 21, 2016
Slips and falls are some of the most common accidents and can happen anywhere: in the supermarket, at the mall, or right at home. Slip and fall accidents are the leading cause of injury or death in people ages 65 and older. Missouri’s slip and fall injury rate is 30% higher than the current national average.
In many slip and fall accident cases, plaintiffs have grounds to sue for compensation for their injuries. The defendant is typically the owner of the property, who was negligent in keeping the property free from dangerous hazards. If you live in a condominium or are part of a homeowners association (HOA), find out your rights after a harmful slip, trip, and fall accident.
Who Is Liable for Slip and Fall Injuries?
In the examination of a slip and fall case, first investigate the cause of the accident. In many cases, a preventable hazard is the source of the injury, such as a spill negligently left on the floor of the grocery store. In the home, the hazard might be a dangerously uneven curb in a common area or a piece of lawn equipment negligently left in the walkway. Injuries in a property’s common area may be the liability of the HOA.
When a person is responsible for the maintenance of his or her home as its owner, the injured party probably does not have grounds for a lawsuit. If, however, someone else bears this responsibility – such as the HOA – it may constitute a premises liability case. Typically, people moving into certain areas will sign a contract, or leasing agreement, with the HOA.
Most contracts state that the homeowner is responsible for the maintenance of everything inside the condo or house, while the HOA takes responsibility for common areas of the property. If your accident occurred on the grounds of your neighborhood or in a common area, the HOA may be liable.
Elements of a Case Against the HOA
In premises liability cases in Missouri, the plaintiff has to prove a dangerous property condition caused the injury, the property owner knew or should have known about the hazard, and the property owner did nothing to fix the problem. These three elements prove the property owner’s negligence, and give the injured party an outlet to receive financial recovery for his or her injuries. The HOA itself may be liable for your slip and fall injuries if you prove:
- The HOA owed you a duty of care. If you have a contract with your HOA stating it has a duty to take care of common areas, you satisfy this element. A duty of care means the HOA is responsible for discovering and repairing dangerous property conditions.
- The HOA breached its duty. If the HOA knew about the condition (if you reported it, for example) or reasonably should have known about it and did nothing to repair the problem, it has breached its duty.
- The breach of duty caused your injuries. To have a case against the HOA, you must have evidence that the HOA’s breach of duty directly caused your injury. You need to show that because the HOA did not repair a hazardous condition, you suffered an injury.
- You suffered damages because of your slip and fall accident. Evidence of damages can include medical records showcasing your injuries, medical bills, and proof that you had to miss work as a result of the accident.
Proving these four elements requires the help of an experienced attorney who can gather evidence against the HOA in your slip and fall case. Your Kansas City personal injury attorney should understand the rights and responsibilities of the HOA in your particular case and have the tools to build a negligence case against the HOA.