Premises liability cases are often based on these considerations: The safety of a property, and the warnings provided for any unsafe elements on the property. Home and business owners are responsible for maintaining the safety of their properties, but hazards can arise that are out of the owner’s control. For example, an owner may be aware of a shaky balcony that could cause harm, but is waiting for a contractor to come over and repair it. In these cases, the owner is responsible for providing a proper warning of the danger to their guests, through signage or other methods.
Posting a warning sign can excuse a property owner from liability in some cases. On the opposite end, a warning may not always be required, and the absence of signage does not guarantee a property owner’s fault.
The purpose of signage is to warn people of a hazard. If the danger is obvious (e.g. a giant hole in the floor), then posting a sign may not be necessary. Guests are expected to notice the giant hole in the floor because it is so visible, and should therefore know to proceed with caution. A jury may agree that if a hazard is significantly obvious, the victim’s injuries would be their fault.
Of course, some dangers are more inconspicuous, and a sign may be the only way a guest would notice the danger. Property owners who fail to post a sign warning of more covert hazards could be liable for the damage their negligence caused.
When a sign is posted but guests fail to adhere to its warnings, their own negligence may excuse the property owner. Although it is the responsibility of a property owner to maintain a safe environment, visitors have their own responsibility not to knowingly enter dangerous situations.
The significance of a sign will vary depending on the circumstances of a case. For a free evaluation of your injury claim, contact the Law Office of James M. Stanley.
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