Most people don’t think about the number of doors that they go through on a daily basis. At most, one might double check the locks to ensure the safety of their property or loved ones when leaving for the day. But, like so many other products, a door can have a defect that results in serious injury to anyone who is unlucky enough to walk through it.
One morning, a 24-year-old man got up early to walk his dog. They enjoyed the early morning and everything indicated that the day would be a good one – until they went home and the man opened the door to his apartment building.
The door he used was specifically designed for residents who had dogs and was equipped with a box containing a hydraulic device that ensured the door closed slowly once someone walked through it. On this particular day, however, the door didn’t close slowly.
In the moments after he opened the door, the man saw the actual device swing off of the door and fly at his face. He attempted to duck but failed to move quickly enough and was struck in the head. The blow caused immediate swelling, dizziness, and a laceration. He cleaned up the blood and then went to work.
While at his job as an apprentice electrician, he continued to feel dizzy and was unable to remain standing. A family member picked him up and took him to the emergency room where doctors found that he had a concussion and swelling in the brain. Over the next few months, he developed severe migraines, neck pain, and depression. He saw a number of specialists and tried more than 25 medications, botox injections, and special glasses. He attempted to work for three years after the accident but his increasingly painful condition impacted his cognitive function and he was unable to continue.
A Failure To Inspect The Premises
The victim chose to file a lawsuit against the company that was hired to manage his apartment building. In his complaint, he alleged that the hydraulic device had previously been loose and that if the manager had performed a routine daily inspection, the safety issue would have been discovered and his injuries prevented.
He was able to provide the court with a work order which proved that a someone had notified the management company of the hazard three months before his accident. In addition to this, the apartment building’s maintenance man testified that he had repaired the door several times before the accident and had also had to do repairs several times after.
The defendants denied any prior knowledge of the issue and also said, that despite the testimony of medical experts, that the victim had not actually suffered a brain injury. Prior to going to trial, they did offer to settle the case for $500,000 – much less than the $925,000 the plaintiff was requesting. Ultimately, he rejected their offer.
After presenting their arguments at trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff $2,850,000.
FAQ’s About Premises Liability
Whenever someone is injured on someone else’s property due to a defect or hazard that should not have been there, the owner and / or management company who is in charge of the property may be held liable.
In order to prove that they have a valid claim, plaintiffs in these cases must show that :
- a defect of some kind existed on the property
- this specific defect caused their injuries
- the defendant is the owner / manager of the property
- they should have known or knew about the hazard and did nothing to warn others of the safety issue or fix it
Property managers and owners are expected to examine the land and buildings at reasonable intervals to determine if any repairs need to be made. If an issue is discovered, repairs should be made immediately or warning signs need to be placed around the defect until repairs can be made.
What Is Considered Reasonable?
This is a difficult question to answer. What might be considered reasonable for one property is not for another. For example, a small two bedroom house with no yard might be looked over every day by the owner, but it would be unreasonable to inspect all 800 acres of a farm. The best way to determine if an inspection was performed at appropriate intervals is to contact a premises liability attorney who can investigate the matter for you.
What If The Defendant Claims The Manufacturer Was At Fault?
It is absolutely possible for a plaintiff to file claims against multiple parties if each party has been negligent.
For example, if the manufacturer or designer of the hydraulic device created the flaw from the very beginning and this flaw caused the device to fall from the door, they too can be held liable. This does not mean, however, that the property owner is not liable as they are still responsible for maintaining a safe environment.