Many Americans live in communities governed by Homeowners’ Associations (HOAs). Most HOAs have guidelines that all residents of the community must follow pertaining to house paint colors, driveways, sidewalks, tree trimming, gardening, and property maintenance. For example, an HOA may require all residents to repave their driveways every few years. Some HOAs offer landscaping and other services to residents who pay their HOA fees. What happens when someone suffers a slip and fall injury in a community with an HOA?
What Are the Premises Liability Laws for HOAs?
Even though an HOA may govern a community, the individual property owners in that community still have individual obligations when it comes to the care and maintenance of their properties. Those property owners would also face liability for injuries that occur on their properties from foreseeable hazards. However, some HOA communities have common areas and community centers operated and maintained by the HOA. If someone suffers a slip and fall injury due to negligent care of community property under the HOA’s purview, the HOA would absorb liability for the resulting damages.
Many possible scenarios could lead to an HOA absorbing liability for a slip and fall accident.
- An HOA employee negligently left lawn care equipment or other tools in a walking path, creating a tripping hazard.
- The HOA failed to address a known safety issue before it caused an injury to someone.
- The HOA failed to perform corrective or preventative maintenance set forth in their HOA agreements with residents.
These are just a few possible examples; if an HOA knew of a slip and fall hazard on a property the HOA controls and failed to fix it before someone suffered an injury, the HOA would be liable for the victim’s damages.
How Do You Prove Fault for a Slip & Fall
The issue of foreseeability is crucial in premises liability lawsuits for slip and fall injuries. If the injury-causing hazard was foreseeably dangerous, or the plaintiff’s attorney successfully argues that a reasonable person would have foreseen the danger of the hazard and taken appropriate action, it is likely the HOA will face liability for a slip and fall incident from a foreseeable hazard.
The plaintiff in a slip and fall lawsuit against an HOA will first need to prove that the HOA owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. If the plaintiff had a contract with the HOA that included HOA obligations for care and maintenance of certain areas that the HOA failed to fulfill, this would likely constitute a breach of duty of care.
The plaintiff must have suffered an actual injury or some kind of measurable loss from the incident in question to pursue a slip and fall claim. The plaintiff’s attorney must prove the extent of the plaintiff’s damages and link the HOA’s breach of duty of care to the plaintiff’s damages. Damages in most personal injury lawsuits for slip and fall injuries include medical expenses, pain and suffering compensation, and lost income from time spent in recovery. The plaintiff may also secure property damage compensation if a slip and fall incident damaged or destroyed personal property, such as an expensive watch or smartphone.
If you or a loved one recently suffered any type of slip and fall injury in a community governed by an HOA, it is a good idea to talk to a Houston slip and fall attorney as soon as possible about your legal options. A lawyer can review your HOA contract to determine the HOA’s level of liability for your damages and other factors that may come into play with your claim. We can also help with insurance claims and represent you in court if necessary.