A homeowner's landscaping can cause serious accidents if not properly maintained or if it presents certain hazards to visitors. It is the owner’s responsibility to correct and/or remove any dangerous conditions. When that doesn’t happen, the homeowner could be liable for physical harm that visitors suffer because of the landscaping.
Safety Hazards Related to Landscaping
Keeping up with landscaping is about more than maintaining the home's aesthetic appearance. It is also necessary to prevent landscaping from becoming a hazard to visitors or passersby. One potential hazard is tall grass that the homeowner hasn't cleared. During hot, dry conditions it can become a fire hazard.
Dry, tall grass can also become a haven for various pests including:
- mice; and
These pests may not only directly harm visitors, some of these creatures carry parasites like ticks that pose a danger to people.
One of the most common landscaping-related hazards is trees. Homeowners should remove dead trees so they don't fall on nearby objects or people. Fallen trees can also block a walkway, creating a hazard for pedestrians forced into the street. This poses a risk of being struck by a vehicle.
Trees or branches damaged by wind, insects, disease or lightning can suddenly snap. Further, inclement weather can break branches and send them flying towards passersby and nearby objects.
Failure to keep a tree trimmed can also become a safety issue. Branches may hang down over the street or sidewalk, obstructing oncoming traffic or blocking traffic signs from the view of passing vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians. They may even touch and damage power lines.
Property Owner Liability When Landscaping Issues Lead to Injuries
Owners are required to inspect their property to keep it properly maintained. This includes inspecting outdoor landscaping to make sure it's free of hazards. If the property owner finds a problem, he or she should correct it as soon as possible to eliminate the hazard.
Claimants may establish liability for injuries if the owner knew of a dangerous condition and failed to act. Property owners may also be liable for injuries if he or she reasonably should have known of a hazard and failed to act. An example would be a tree in the front yard that is leaning toward a sidewalk or one that has obvious signs of decay.
That's why it's important that property owners regularly inspect their property. Of course, there can be many challenges in proving that someone should have known about a condition that could cause injuries. This is where an attorney may be of assistance to passersby or visitors to the property.
Of course, property owners who cause the hazardous condition themselves are liable for resultant accidents and damages.
Seeking Help from an Attorney When Injured on Another's Property
Some of these cases are pretty clear-cut when it comes to establishing homeowner liability for injuries sustained on someone’s property. But complicated issues may arise in some cases, which may require to an attorney.
If the claimant can prove liability, he or she may collect compensation for damages related to the accident that the landscaping hazard caused. This means recovering compensation to cover medical bills to treat injuries and time away from work during recovery.
To discuss whether unsafe landscaping was the cause of injuries and who may be liable, contact the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz. Call us at 404-474-0804 to schedule your free consultation with an attorney who can help.