Hey, homeowner! Is your yard or property a breeding ground for a premises liability case or a personal injury case? Good question, right?! With spring just around the corner, it’s time to make a to-do list.
Those that you invite on your property are your responsibility in a sense. You are responsible to protect them from known dangers and dangers that an ordinary inspection would reveal. Even uninvited guests, like child trespassers, pose a worrisome legal liability.
Most of the time we think of slip-and-fall accidents when we worry about getting sued in a premises liability case or a personal injury case. Living on a corner lot in town, we get a lot of foot traffic. The sidewalks around my house are our responsibility.
Our town grants us 48 hours to get our sidewalks cleared. However, our sidewalks get cleared of snow and ice quickly! Then they get treated with ice-melt. The sidewalks are a long, narrow skating rink otherwise.
However, a few years back, the town decided to come in and redo the sidewalks. They also installed a handicapped accessible crosswalk on our corner.
Unfortunately the design engineers did not correctly account for the drainage on our street. Since then, the handicapped crosswalk section always floods in wet weather. In freezing temperatures the small pond turns into a sheet of ice. The “pond” is almost impossible to keep clear under those conditions.
Who would be responsible for a slip-and-fall on the section of sidewalk turned nightmare? It’s a question that bothers me every winter. What are your yard hazards?
1.) Sidewalk maintenance helps prevent slip-and-fall accidents.
Town rules differ. You’ll need to check with your town office or your neighborhood homeowner’s association as to your responsibilities. Waiting until an accident occurs is not good game plan. Clearly, cracked, uneven, or broken sidewalks are a slip-and-fall hazard. The same goes for driveways.
2.) Remove tree and yard debris.
Interestingly factoid — New York City is a prime place to get injured by a falling tree. More than 2.5 million trees line New York’s parks and city streets!
What about your home and yard? Missouri weather is not a friend to trees! Between the high winds, snow, ice, and maybe even a tornado, your trees get battered.
The Missouri Department of Conservation publishes a helpful guide to cleaning up damaged trees after storms. The MDC recommends hiring an arborist if you have trees you are unsure about saving.
If you have kids, especially, those downed tree limbs are a kid-magnet. War, fort building, limb-launching — you name it, they’ll do it. So if the neighbor’s kids gravitate toward your yard, ward off a premises liability claim by removing temptation!
3.) Use a fence and “no trespassing” signs if your yard contains a pool or a dog.
Fido may be all bark and no bite, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. “Beware of the guard dog.” and “no trespassing” signs are preventative measures.
Since pools are “attractive nuisances” for child trespassers, secure fencing and a sign are a must. Although neither of these can totally prevent an accidental drowning, good fences make good neighbors. Our youngest neighbors deserve our best protection.
If you’re getting your yard ready for spring and summer fun, here’s another article on backyard safety for you from your friends at The Law Offices of Nathan A. Steimel, LLC
BONUS TIP: Hide your grill behind that secure fencing, too. You never know when a child chef wanna-be might try out your grill.
If you or a loved one have suffered serious injuries due to someone else’s unsafe property conditions, you need professional legal help. Call 636-244-3737 for free initial consultation with Nathan A. Steimel, an experienced personal injury lawyer serving the greater St. Louis area.
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