Protecting Owners from Hazard Liability

In a society that is increasingly litigious, owners must always be on the lookout for potential liability hazards that may exist on their properties. If someone slips and falls at either an office or retail center, the owner may be sued. Courts will often hold a center responsible for a slip-and-fall accident, reasoning that the center knew or should have known about the hazard.

This is where property management becomes an invaluable service to the owner. If the hazard was difficult to see, the owner may reason that the center couldn’t be expected to know about it and therefore take steps to prevent it, but in the eyes of the court, this is not true.

Another common potential hazard is curb stops in parking lots. If someone slips or stumbles over a curb stop, and the owner can prove that the car stop was 1) not defective, 2) placed according to a properly approved parking plan, and 3) required to meet current building code requirements, then it is reasonable to assume that the owner would not be held liable for such an occurrence – someone was simply not paying attention to where he or she was going. If, on the other hand, a pothole or sinkhole occurred on the property, which was not properly repaired and someone fell into it, it may very well present a potential liability situation.

During the physical inspections of each owner’s property, a good property management company makes special notes and identifies potential hazards that could raise questionable liability issues for our owners. They will replace broken and damaged car stops, have potholes and sinkholes filled and repaired immediately, remove visible debris such as broken glass or nails, secure stepping stones, repair broken and damaged curbing – measures which further protect each owner from a patron who may be looking for an opportunity to file a lawsuit against a property owner.

A good property management team becomes the eyes and ears for potential problems facing property owners, and a hands-on management style helps protect owners from these legal pitfalls.

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