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Premises Liability and Slip & Fall in Rhode Island

Property owners have a legal obligation to maintain their property and ensure its safety. When unsafe conditions occur, they are required to post hazard warnings, even if it is private property. The laws which regulate premise liability fall under Tort law and, consequently, violations of premise liability laws can result in a personal injury lawsuit.

Property Owners’ Responsibilities

Property owners have a legal and ethical responsibility to maintain their properties to prevent accidents and ensure the safety of occupants, visitors, and the general public. The extent of these responsibilities may vary depending on local laws and regulations, but there are common principles that property owners should adhere to:

  1. Routine Inspections:
    • Regularly inspect the property for potential hazards, such as uneven surfaces, broken steps, loose handrails, or other dangerous conditions.
    • Schedule routine maintenance checks for essential systems like plumbing, electrical, and HVAC to identify and address issues promptly.
  2. Repair and Maintenance:
    • Promptly repair any damage or defects that could pose a threat to safety, such as damaged flooring, leaking roofs, or faulty wiring.
    • Maintain the property in compliance with building codes and safety standards.
  3. Security Measures:
    • Install adequate security measures to prevent criminal activities that could lead to accidents or injuries, such as proper lighting, surveillance cameras, and secure access points.
  4. Landscaping and Grounds Maintenance:
    • Keep outdoor areas well-maintained to prevent slips, trips, and falls. This includes maintaining sidewalks, parking lots, and landscaping.
    • Remove ice and snow promptly in areas prone to winter weather.
  5. Warning Signs and Barriers:
    • Clearly mark hazardous areas with warning signs.
    • Use barriers or fencing to restrict access to dangerous zones or construction areas.
  6. Accessibility Compliance:
    • Ensure compliance with accessibility standards to accommodate individuals with disabilities. This may involve providing ramps, handrails, and other modifications.
  7. Tenant Education:
    • If the property is leased or rented, educate tenants about safety measures and encourage them to report any issues promptly.
  8. Liability Insurance:
    • Carry appropriate liability insurance to cover potential accidents or injuries on the property.
  9. Emergency Preparedness:
    • Develop and communicate emergency procedures for situations such as fires, floods, or other disasters.
    • Ensure that fire extinguishers and other safety equipment are in good working condition.
  10. Legal Compliance:
    • Stay informed about local, state, and federal laws and regulations pertaining to property maintenance and safety.
  11. Records Keeping:
    • Keep records of maintenance and repairs conducted on the property. This documentation can be valuable in the event of legal disputes.

Failure to fulfill these responsibilities may result in legal consequences, including lawsuits and fines. Property owners should consult with legal professionals and stay informed about local regulations to ensure they meet their obligations to maintain a safe environment.

Premises liability laws vary depending on the type of property in question.

• Private residences- Open and obvious hazards do not require a posted or verbal warning; however, less obvious hazards that could not easily be detected by a reasonable person (such as the presence of a vicious dog) require a posted warning. Anyone who is injured on your property, regardless of their status as an invited guest or trespasser, may have the legal rights to sue you if you failed to post warnings about hidden hazards on your property.

• Businesses open to the public-Property that is open to the public must be maintained and free of hazards. Any hazard that could cause a potential injury must have a warning sign. If a citizen is injured in your store because there were no warning signs (such as uneven terrain, temporary construction sites, slippery substances on the floor) they may sue for compensation.

Types of Premises Liability

Property owners are required to ensure a safe atmosphere for the public. Failure to do so may enable injured patrons to file a legal claim and seek compensation for their losses. If you have sustained an injury from any of the following hazards, you should speak with an experienced attorney immediately:

• Slip and fall-From hazards like uneven terrain, unnoticeable steps, or slippery surfaces

• Elevator malfunctions or failure-Such as being locked in or injured by a defective door

• Staircase injuries-Structural instability or inadequate handrails

• Toxic mold-A certain type of mold can cause respiratory problems in many people

• Lead paint

• Swimming pool injuries-Inadequately guarded swimming pools may attract children. Swimming pool owners may be liable for any accidents and injuries which occur in their pool, regardless of their presence or permission.

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