If you suffered a fall injury due to a faulty handrail, it may be possible to hold the property owner, manager, or landlord financially accountable for the resulting medical bills and other damages. Whether your handrail premises liability claim has merit will depend on a number of factors.
The easiest way to find out if you have grounds for a claim is to schedule a free consultation with a premises liability attorney. A seasoned lawyer can help you determine if the duty of care may have been breached, identify the liable party or parties, and gather the evidence needed to build your case.
Your attorney can also answer any questions you have about the proceedings and your claim in particular. Below we’ve answered some general FAQs about faulty handrail premises liability cases:
1. Who Might Be Liable for Injuries Caused by a Faulty Handrail?
In most premises liability cases, the defendant is the property owner, manager, or landlord. When determining liability, your attorney will have to find out who was in possession or control of the property at the time of the injury, and whether a third-party contractor had been hired to take over property maintenance duties.
For instance, if a contractor was hired to reconstruct a staircase but failed to properly fasten a handrail, that contractor may be liable for any fall injuries that result. However, if a handrail became defective due to general wear and tear over time, the liable party would likely be the property owner, manager, or landlord.
2. What Is the Difference Between an Invitee and a Licensee?
Invitee and licensee are two categories of visitor status. Your visitor status at the time of the injury will determine the duty of care owed to you by the party that owned or was in control of the property.
An invitee is someone who is on a property for business dealings with the property owner or controller—for example, a grocery store customer or a patron at a diner. A licensee is a person who is invited onto a property but not for business dealings—for instance, someone who is attending a dinner party at a friend’s house.
If you were an invitee, the property owner or controller would have had a duty to perform reasonable inspections to identify dangerous conditions that posed an injury risk, and to fix said conditions within a reasonable timeframe or to warn you about them. If you were a licensee, there would not have been a duty of inspection; however, the property owner or controller would still have had a duty to fix or to warn you about dangerous conditions that were known or should have been known by the property owner or controller.
In other words, if you were an invitee, your attorney can try to prove a breach of the duty of care (i.e. negligence) by demonstrating that the handrail was faulty for a sufficient amount of time as to be discovered through reasonable inspection. If you were a licensee, your lawyer would have to prove that the property owner or controller knew or should have known about the dangerous condition even though there was no duty of inspection.
3. What Does Vicarious Liability Mean?
In the state of California, employers can sometimes be held vicariously liable for the negligence of employees who are acting within the course and scope of their employment. For example, let’s assume you fell and suffered an injury due to a faulty handrail at your apartment complex. If the handrail was faulty due to the negligence of a contractor who was an employee of the apartment complex—as opposed to an independent contractor—you may be able to hold the apartment complex vicariously liable for your medical bills and other damages.
4. What Evidence Might Be Used to Prove Negligence?
Liability is established in most premises liability cases by proving negligence, which is one party’s breach of the duty of care owed to another. As previously mentioned, the duty of care you were owed at the time of the injury will depend in part on your visitor status.
Regardless of your visitor status, your lawyer can establish negligence by proving the following:
- The defendant owned or was in control of the property at the time of the injury,
- The defendant had actual or constructive knowledge that the handrail was faulty, and
- The defendant failed to fix the handrail within a reasonable timeframe or to warn you about the dangerous condition.
Below are a few examples of evidence your attorney might use to prove negligence:
- Photos of the faulty handrail,
- Surveillance footage of the incident,
- Building maintenance records,
- The incident report, and
- Any documentation of previous complaints made about the faulty handrail.
5. What Can I Do to Strengthen My Case?
Immediately after suffering the injury, you should take the following steps to strengthen your case:
- Take pictures of the faulty handrail and your injuries;
- Record the contact details of eyewitnesses;
- Report the incident to the property owner or manager;
- File an incident report and get a copy;
- Ask to review surveillance footage of the incident, record it with your cell phone, and request a copy;
- Visit a hospital or clinic for a medical assessment;
- Follow all of your doctor’s instructions;
- Deactivate your social media accounts so your posts cannot be used to dispute your claim;
- Start a personal injury journal; and
- Contact an attorney so the investigation can begin promptly.
Call (562) 206-1939 to Speak with a Premises Liability Attorney in Long Beach
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
Michael D. Waks is an accomplished premises liability lawyer who is passionate about helping the injured fight for the compensation they need to move on with life. You cannot trust that the liable party or their insurance company will have your best interests at heart. Attorney Michael D. Waks can use his extensive knowledge of premises liability case law, statutes, and procedures to pursue the highest possible settlement or verdict. For a free consultation, email us HERE or call (562) 206-1939.
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