Is My Association Liable For Any Injuries That Occur On Association Property?
Typically, an association is responsible for injuries that occur on its property, but there are exceptions. There is property that is to be maintained by the lot owner or the unit owner and there is property that is to be maintained by the association. Usually, those properties maintained by the association are either common areas or limited common areas. Limited common areas can either be the responsibility of the association or of the members, depending on how the governing documents are written for that particular association.
You need to establish, through either the statutes or the governing documents, whose maintenance responsibility that particular area is. If it is the unit owner’s or home owner’s, it is going to be their responsibility to pay, unless the association made it so that their unit or home was unsafe. If not, then the owner and their insurance carrier would be responsible. If the injury happens on a common area of property, then the association may very well be liable.
Just because someone gets injured does not mean that the person who owns the property or is responsible for maintaining the property is necessarily liable. It may be the fault of the person who got injured. Certainly, there is exposure to liability for associations, if an injury or any kind of property damage occurs due to some type of negligence caused by the association or their lack of maintenance.
Our Association’s Entryway To The Clubhouse Gets Slippery When Wet. Does Posting A “Slippery When Wet” Sign Actually Protect The Association?
When an attorney is talking to a client about how to minimize risk, it is always a risk-versus-cost benefit analysis. You can take very stringent steps where no one can get injured, but the cost is such that it doesn’t make financial sense. You can do things that are very cheap but they really don’t do much to limit your exposure. If you have a slippery area and you know about it and the association doesn’t take any action, that is going to be considered negligence. If you put a “Slippery When Wet” sign up, then you can argue that the members assume the risk of injury, if they don’t act with caution. However, someone may act with caution and slip anyway. If so, the association may be found liable. Putting up a sign would probably be the bare minimum action to take. Adding some type of drainage or a non-slip surface costs more but it is going to offer more protection.
An association needs to look at what the possible liability would be. They have a fiduciary duty to the members as well. A sign would be quite minimal. If there was an area that they knew was slippery and I was representing the association, I would probably advise them to take a more aggressive action to try to fix the problem.
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