Property owners are not liable for injuries related to unforeseeable accidents
Property owners are responsible for keeping their properties in reasonably safe condition. However, they are not automatically liable for every single accident that may happen due to a hazard on the property. Instead, liability hinges on one very important question: was the accident foreseeable?
As a recent case from the California Court of Appeals shows, the question of foreseeability can sometimes be approached from multiple angles.
The case involved a man who was injured during a showing of a foreclosure property. He had climbed up onto a diving board over an empty swimming pool for a better view of the area, and the diving board broke. He fell into the empty pool and suffered serious injuries.
The man filed a premises liability lawsuit against Coldwell Banker, alleging that they were responsible for his injuries because they failed to fix the diving board or warn him about it. Coldwell Banker responded by showing that they were not aware of any problems with the diving board. An inspector had gone over the entire property prior to the showing and did not report any issues that would indicate the diving board was in poor condition. Based on the results of the inspection, the accident was not foreseeable and therefore they were not liable.
The court agreed with the defendant and granted a summary judgement, but the plaintiff appealed. This time, he argued that the empty pool was a hazard in and of itself, and Coldwell Banker was negligent for not correcting it. However, plaintiffs can’t raise new issues in an appeal that were not contained in the original complaint, so the appeal was doomed from the start.
However, the court did consider the plaintiff’s argument, and ruled that even if he had included it in his initial complaint, he still would have lost. An empty pool is an open and obvious hazard. Property owners are not liable for injuries related to open and obvious hazards, unless they arise out of foreseeable actions taken out of necessity. The court’s opinion was that climbing up on a diving board over an empty pool was not an action of necessity and there was no way Coldwell Banker could have foreseen it.
Need Help with a Property Accident Claim?
As you can see, the liability issues surrounding accidents that happen on another party’s property can be complicated. Before you make up your mind to pursue or not pursue a claim related to a property accident, you need to consult an experienced premises accident attorney. Contact The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker at 800-333-0000 today and we will put you in touch with a qualified attorney.