Personal injury Library

When Can a Homeowners Associations Be Liable for an Injury?

Home Owners Associations (HOAs) can be held responsible for some kinds accidents that happen on property they manage. Here is how it works under Texas law:

Paying expensive dues every year to your neighborhood homeowners association ("HOA") means you can expect some specific things in return. And even if you are a guest on a property and not a member of the local HOA, you can still expect to be treated fairly and safely. And you can expect that property maintained by a homeowners association will be safe and free of hidden dangers. Have you been injured on property owned or maintained by a homeowners association? If so, you have rights to be compensated for your injuries under a legal theory called premises liability. Grossman Law Offices can represent you and your family if one of you is injured on someone else's premises.

What Are a Homeowners Association's Duties Regarding HOA Property?

The general rule is that homeowners associations are liable for injuries that occur on association property if the homeowners association a) either knows or should know that the danger exists and b) does not correct the condition or warn the injured person (the "plaintiff") of the danger in advance. Regarding sub a) above, actual knowledge of a danger by an HOA is sufficient of course. And so is what the law calls constructive knowledge. Constructive knowledge means that the homeowners association, through reasonable diligence, should have discovered the danger but failed to do so due to its own negligence, or lack of care. So although the HOA might not actually know of a hidden danger on its property, it can still be held to have constructive knowledge of that danger.

An example of constructive knowledge: one of the maintenance staff's duties in your condominium building is to perform twice-yearly checks on the staircases to make sure the staircases are safe. The maintenance staff fails to check the staircase outside your unit, and one of the steps is loose. If that loose step injures you as you walk down the stairs, your HOA and the negligent maintenance men can all be held responsible to you for your injuries and the costs of your emergency and long-term medical care, lost income at your job, and your pain and suffering. The maintenance men can be forced to compensate you under a negligence theory, and the HOA can be forced to compensate you under a premises liability theory. You would theoretically be able to recover money damages to compensate you for the injuries you suffered and for the costs of those injuries' treatments. Grossman Law Offices' lawyers are veterans in the fight to force HOAs to make that theory a reality.

Another common example of homeowners association premises liability: an HOA knows that an area of sidewalk on HOA property is slippery due to the build-up of moss. Despite knowing about two people being injured by slipping and falling on the sidewalk, the HOA does nothing about the problem. If you are then injured due to slipping and falling on that same sidewalk, you can sue the HOA for the costs of your medical treatment and the other damages discussed in the paragraph above.

Although HOAs are normally responsible for injuries caused by and on their properties, more and more HOAs are escaping responsibility through crafty methods. Some courts have adopted a "trivial defect" rule, meaning that if the defect or danger on the property is small enough, a homeowners association will not be responsible for harm caused by it. The apparentness of dangers and actual knowledge of them by plaintiffs are other factors courts look at today.

A patchwork of state premises liability laws, combined with restrictions and covenants specific to local HOAs and crafty new defenses, mean you need experienced premises liability lawyers on your side if you are hurt on homeowners association property. Whatever injury you might have suffered: if someone else's property is to blame, the law recognizes your right to recover. Call Grossman Law Offices today if you need assistance with a premises liability claim: (855) 326-0000.

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