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Dangerous Structure Laws

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What Is Considered a Dangerous Property, Building, or Structure?

Property owners have a duty of care when it comes to keeping their premises and visitors safe. If their property, building, or structure are dangerous and someone is injured, they may be held liable.

Simply stated, any dangerous property or building that a property owner has control over, may be labeled a dangerous structure. Additionally, dangerous property may also include something like a hazardous waste spill.

Dangerous structures often become so, due to daily wear and tear. Whether the property is residential or commercial, property owners have a duty to keep their property safe and maintained.

Examples of residential features that may become dangerous structures:

  • Balconies, decks, and porches
  • Staircases and elevators
  • Handrails and support beams

Potentially dangerous commercial structures may include, but are not limited to:

  • Stairways
  • Overhead lighting and shelving
  • Product displays
  • Faulty doors

Businesses also owe a standard of care to employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has the ability to inspect the workplace of businesses, and also has the power to enforce its standards.

What Is the Standard of Care for Dangerous Structures?

State laws vary on premise liability laws, so it’s always important to stay up-to-date on the laws in your jurisdiction. As previously mentioned, property owners are generally responsible for keeping their property safe, though occasionally other individuals may also be held liable. The standard of care scale may vary, depending on the type of visitor, be it an invitee, licensee, or trespasser.

Typically, the following elements of proof are necessary to show a property owner was negligent in upholding their duty of care:

  • There was an existing dangerous condition on the property.
  • The property owner knew of the dangerous condition.
  • The property owner failed to remedy the situation.
  • The victim sustained injury due to the property owner’s breach of his own duty of care.

Property owners must also take reasonable care in keeping their property safe. This means they must do their best to prevent accidents from happening, they must warn visitors of dangerous conditions, and they must remedy the dangerous conditions as quickly as possible,

What to Do If You Are Injured on a Dangerous Property, Building, or Structure?

If you are injured on someone else’s property (premise liability), it is important to contact a personal injury attorney. Whether you suffered a slip and fall, or fell into an elevator shaft, you may be entitled to damages.

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Limitations on Recovery for Slip and Fall or Premises Liability Injuries

Limitations do exist when it comes to receiving damages for premises liability and slip and fall injuries. The statute of limitations varies from state to state, therefore, the sooner you file a claim, the more likely you will be able to recover damages.

Courts will also take into consideration the respective fault of each party to the incident. If a judge decides the injured party was at fault due to their own careless actions, then an award of damages may be less likely.

If you are injured on public property, you must file a claim immediately. The time limits for filing this type of claim are drastically reduced, often to within 30 days of the incident.

People also read: Defenses to Slip and Fall Claims

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you have been injured on someone else’s property, it is imperative that you consult an experienced personal injury attorney immediately. Premises liability cases can be complex, cumbersome, and difficult to navigate. An attorney can help build your case, represent you in court, and go after the damages you deserve.

Photo of page author Sarah Tipton

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 08-24-2017 12:12 PM PDT

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