Premises Liability – Hidden Dangers and Open and Obvious Hazards

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Property owners have a responsibility to maintain their premises and ensure the safety of all persons who may enter. Premises liability is a branch of tort law that holds landowners accountable for the condition of their property. In order to avoid a liability lawsuit, all hidden dangers must be accompanied by ample warnings, either posted or verbal.What Is a Hidden Danger?Hidden dangers are defined by the law as any hazard that “could not be easily detected by a person of average intelligence while they casually inspected an area.” While this legal definition may seem subjective, it is used in courtrooms all the time. To help you better understand what may constitute as a “hidden danger,” here are a few examples• Aggressive dogs on the property• Deceptive footing that appears stable, but is in fact hazardous (such as a faulty step, or covered hole)• Unstable handrails• Swimming poolsIf these hidden dangers exist, it is the property owner’s responsibility to warn any guests of the hazard. If someone suffers an injury because of these dangers, the property owner may be liable for the accident.What are Open and Obvious Hazards?Open and obvious hazards are dangers that are easily detectable and obviously a hazard. Examples of such conditions could include:• An area under temporary construction, roped or taped off• Large holes with warning tape• Heavy equipment or machinery• Areas of the home which have been damaged or are in the process of being demolishedFor hazards such as these, it is the guest’s responsibility to take the necessary precautions to avoid injury. The property is not liable for the blatant recklessness of their guests.Who Is a Guest?Premises liability laws vary from state to state. The predominant difference is the level of protection provided for guests, depending on their status as an:• Invited guest• Non-invited guest• Member of the public, entering a business• TrespasserIf you have been injured by a negligent property owner, contact the Atlanta premises liability attorneys of Webb, Wade, Taylor & Thompson today.