Can I sue the property owner for personal injury negligence? 27 Answers as of September 19, 2012

My legal issue is whether my family has standing to sue the landlord/property manager of the camp we rented on a lake a few weeks ago. My sister had been swimming and climbing on the floating raft (owned and installed by said landlord/property manager) about 50 ft. from the property, and then she slipped and cut her knee on a rusted bolt sticking out of the raft's ladder. Her injury required nine stitches and she missed a week and a day of work. Can we sue the landlord/property owner for negligence on her part, because she never once mentioned to be careful of the raft? Thanks for your time.

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The Law Office of Josh Lamborn, P.C.
The Law Office of Josh Lamborn, P.C. | Josh Lamborn
Your sister has standing to sue the owner of the property for her injury. The next question is whether she has a good lawsuit. Premises liability cases are very difficult to prove. Juries typically do not like cases where someone is trying to blame a landowner for a fall you took on their property. This is probably because people can put themselves in the landowner's position and generally jurors typically feel like one should take responsibility for their own actions. Here, depending on all of the facts, like how slippery was the raft, how big was the bolt, where was it placed on the ladder, how dangerous was it, was there a different, more safe way to secure the ladder, etc., the jury may see your sister as mostly responsible for her own injury. Negligence cases require there to me something more than just an accident. Someone must have done something that a reasonable person would not do. If a reasonable person should have known about the hazard and should have warned guests about the hazard and if it was foreseeable that someone would slip and be injured, then a lawsuit may be in order.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 8/15/2011
Coulter's Law
Coulter's Law | Coulter K. Richardson
The question comes down to either actual or constructive notice. If a person spills something in a supermarket aisle and a customer slips on it, the supermarket is liable only if it knew about the dangerous condition and did nothing about it (actual notice), or waiting an unusually long period of time to check the aisle (constructive notice) and should have known better. If the landlord did not know about the bolt, the landlord will not likely be liable unless it had been a very long time since the last time the landlord checked the raft for safety. Some of that will depend on the regulations, if any, that govern how camps can operate, and to some degree, industry standard.
Answer Applies to: New Jersey
Replied: 8/15/2011
Wilson & Hajek,LLC, a personal injury law firm
Wilson & Hajek,LLC, a personal injury law firm | Francis Hajek
As is usually the case in Virginia personal injury questions, more facts are needed. Was the bolt above water and clearly visible? Was it hidden by anything? Virginia law is harsh when it comes to contributory fault and conditions that are open and obvious. Typically, claims involving open and obvious conditions are difficult to prosecute. The fact that there was no warning about an obvious condition does not save the day. Are there pictures? Are there prior injuries to others from the same condition? You should probably consult an injury lawyer for help.
Answer Applies to: Virginia
Replied: 8/11/2011
Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
You can sue anyone you want. The question is will you be successful and for how much. Every Personal Injury case has three components: 1) Liability - Was someone else liable for your injury? 2) Damages - What wages did you lose? What medical bills did you accumulate, what is the economic value of the pain and suffering that you experienced? 3) Causation - Was the negligence of the person you are suing the direct cause of your damages. A great case is would be a drunk driver with $1M insurance coverage rear ends a car where a high earning, 30 year old neurosurgeon, with wife and three young children dies (as terrible as that sounds, I am using this as an example). There would be no question as to liability since the drunk driver plowed into the other person's vehicle. The damages would be huge since the person not only dies, but he is a 30 year old person, meaning he has another 30 years minimum he could have worked earning maybe $350K to $500K each year times 30 years, not to mention the loss to his wife and children who would have stood to have all of that income, plus the loss of a father and husband. The causal issue would be proven if it was simply established that the crash had killed the surgeon. Now apply those indices to your sisters case. In her case, she would have to prove that the property owner somehow knew or should have known that a rusty bolt could hurt someone using that raft, which is not a stretch. Then she would have to measure the damages. You say your sister was out of work for a week and a day and had stitches. Depending on how much she earns (lost) and where the stitches are and if they will leave a scar and how bad that scar turns out to be will play into the determination of the value of this case, assuming liability can be established. From your story, it certainly sounds like she has a case worth exploring. She should contact a lawyer, like myself who does personal injury and give him/her the details.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 8/11/2011
The Lucky Law Firm, PLC
The Lucky Law Firm, PLC | Robert Morrison Lucky
In order to be successful in any claim or lawsuit against the landlord/property owner, you have to prove that he knew about the harm and failed to do anything to correct it or warn renters about it. Although, this sounds like it may be an easy feat, it often is not. If your sister or someone else who had been using the raft and noticed the screw, then there is an argument she should have had sufficient notice of the harm. If you would like to further discuss, please contact my office.
Answer Applies to: Louisiana
Replied: 8/11/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    It may depend on whether you signed any document that provided a waiver of rights pertaining to use of the raft or as may be contained in the lease agreement if any. In spite of this there may be a negligence claim if they had notice of the defect and failed to repair it within a reasonable time. Your sister may also be have comparative negligence herself which may affect the extent of any recovery. You should consult an attorney in your area.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    David F. Stoddard
    David F. Stoddard | David F. Stoddard
    You can sue. However, from the way you described the accident, it appears to me that most juries would not find negligence. If the ladder broke because it was defective, or the raft turned over, etc., perhaps. But a bolt sticking out does not strike me as being so inherently dangerous that a warning is necessary. If you slip while climbing on the raft, which is a hazard that seems to me to be an open and obvious hazard that you willingly assume when you climb on to the raft, then you are liable to get injured, and I do not know that you can built a raft that has no sharp or hard edges that might hurt someone who falls. Others might see it differently, however.
    Answer Applies to: South Carolina
    Replied: 8/11/2011
    Judnich Law Office
    Judnich Law Office | Martin W. Judnich
    It is possible to pursue a claim in Montana for this. However, the damages for stitches and about a week of work may not be significant enough for an attorney to pursue.
    Answer Applies to: Montana
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    Oliver Law Office
    Oliver Law Office | Jami Oliver
    There are many questions that would need to be asked and answered before deciding to file a lawsuit against the landowner. Landlords are not insurers of the safety of their guests. However, they owe their guests a duty of reasonable care to keep the premises in a safe condition or to warn of any hidden dangers. The question is whether the landlord knew of the rusty nail and failed to repair it or to inspect for it. There is also a question of whether the nail was open and obvious to the user.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    Bernard Huff, Attorney/Mediator
    Bernard Huff, Attorney/Mediator | Bernard Huff
    Consult with a personal injury attorney to determine if there was negligence on the part of the landlord/property manager which directlycausedyour sister's injuries.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    David Hoines Law
    David Hoines Law | David Hoines
    Probably make claim with camp and see if camp has liability insurance.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C.
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C. | Andrew Velonis
    Every landlowner is legally obligated to keep his property in "reasonably safe" condition. What is "reasonably safe" under the conditions is the question. On the one hand, it would seem that bolting a ladder to a raft is reasonable. On the other hand, it could be argued that it is unreasonable to expose persons on an anchored raft to sharp protrusions, knowing that the raft is used for recreational purposes and that such rafts tend to be slippery. Of course, the injured person is also legally responsible to look out for her own safety, and would also know that the raft was probably slippery and should have been able so see the bolt.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    The Law Office of Stephen R. Chesley, LLC
    The Law Office of Stephen R. Chesley, LLC | Stephen R. Chesley
    There are many factors involved in a lawsuit for negligence. Just showing that one was injured does not satisfy the laws of negligence. One must show that a person was injured ; that the injury was caused by a condition that was caused by the owner or known to the owner; that said owner had a duty to the injured party and that the injury was caused by the condition was made known to the owner before the incident and that said occurrence was foreseeable.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    Yes. I think you have a valid claim.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
    I guess rusty nails are found on rafts and decks. The question is always whether maintenance is adequate and reasonable (not perfection) and whether the participant is careful or negligent. No easy answer here. Ask the property manager to report the matter to the liability company. They may have med pay coverage or, if they investigate and find some fault they may make some type payment.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    The S.E. Farris Law Firm
    The S.E. Farris Law Firm | Spencer E. Farris
    Property owners are responsible for negligence, and have a certain duty to business invitees which it sounds like your sister was- she paid them money to use the property. That being said, making a case for negligence on the limited facts you have given seems pretty tough. Landlord didn't cause her to slip, and she likely signed a waiver of liability in the contract to use the property. I couldn't guess as to whether the bolt head was a dangerous condition or not. Bottom line- this is a complicated situation, and you should call a trial lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A.
    Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A. | Christopher J. Roberts
    You potentially have a case. A property owner can be held responsible for any hidden dangers on their property of which they knew or should have known. Given that the owner in this instance receives compensation from renters who are expected to use the amenities such as the floating raft, it would not be unreasonable to expect a jury to hold them responsible for failing to correct the condition which injured your sister. Most personal injury lawyers such as myself will give you a free initial consultation (no obligation to you), and will take a case such as this on a contingency fee basis meaning the lawyer only recovers if you do.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 2/20/2012
    The Torkzadeh Law Firm
    The Torkzadeh Law Firm | Reza Torkzadeh
    A property owner is generally responsible for providing a safe environment for all people who may be using their premises. In order to properly answer your question, more information is required. I suggest you immediately speak with an attorney provide them all the information necessary to properly evaluate your specific case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/19/2012
    Harris Personal Injury Lawyer
    Harris Personal Injury Lawyer | Philip C. Alexander
    Yes, she can sue the property owner for negligence. However, as part of that, your sister will have to prove certain elements of that claimfor example, that the property owner did not use reasonable care to inspect the property for dangerous conditions (the rusted bolt on the ladder). Your sister should contact a personal injury attorney for a free consultation to discuss the specific facts of her case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    Lyle B. Masnikoff and Associates
    Lyle B. Masnikoff and Associates | Lyle B. Masnikoff
    Maybe. You need to call personal injury attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    A. Daniel Woska & Associates, P.C.
    A. Daniel Woska & Associates, P.C. | Dan Woska
    You may sue the property owner but you would be wise to first hire an attorney, put a demand on them to pay the medical expense and other damages. Then if they deny you can have the lawyer initiate an action. The attorney will help you evaluate the damages in this case.
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC | Vincent J. Bernabei
    Your sister has a valid premises liability claim against the land owner. You should contact an attorney right away.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    Patrick M Lamar Attorney
    Patrick M Lamar Attorney | Patrick M Lamar
    I believe this would be difficult to win. Also there is a recreational use statute which could preclude recovery at all.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/10/2011
    The Umansky Law Firm
    The Umansky Law Firm | William D. Umansky
    Yes you can. You need to contact a lawyer who will further advise you regarding the notice or constructive notice the landlord had regarding the nail. Knowledge of a condition or failure to keep up the property are issues in these type of cases. A good lawyer will help you navigate through them!
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/10/2011
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