What happens when guests are hurt on HOA property?

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We have talked about what would happen if a guest damages HOA property, but what happens if a guest gets injured on HOA property?

What happens if the guest sues the HOA? In such a case, the injured individual would be called the plaintiff, or “a person who brings a case to another person in a court of law.” Read on to learn more about the rights of guests on HOA property, how to avoid liability, and how this is distinguished from injuries on homeowner’s property.

What are the rights of guests on HOA property?

Guests are treated the same way homeowners are in the case of an incident. If anyone is hurt on HOA property, guest or homeowner, the HOA is liable if 1) they had knowledge of the danger and didn’t do anything about it or 2) did not conduct proper evaluations to determine if there was danger, therefore it was negligence that led to injury.

For example, if the sidewalk is icy during the winter and a guest slips on the ice, the HOA would be liable if it was someone’s responsibility to scrape the ice and they did not do so, or if the HOA ignored the fact that there was ice on the ground. In any case, HOA’s can get in a lot of trouble for not maintaining their grounds, especially if they are operating under the assumption that no one would go near a certain area or that the public would assume there was danger.

How can my HOA avoid liability?

There are a couple ways to avoid liability (or handle it, if an accident has already occurred). First, make sure your HOA has proper, updated insurance. If an injury ever does occur on HOA property and the association is held responsible, the HOA will use their Master Insurance Policy to pay the medical bills. Guests and homeowners should feel comforted knowing that the HOA’s insurance is updated and gives adequate coverage. Another thing that can be done is simply being a stickler for the rules. It may be a pain, but being able to say that you did everything you could to keep a safe neighborhood will be better than admitting that you ignored the rules. Also, if you stick to the rules put in place, such situations could be avoided. Along this same track is making sure that homeowners know the consequences as well; sending out a small reminder in the newsletter or after an accident has occurred might motivate homeowners to be careful as well.

What if a guest gets injured on a homeowner’s property?

If a guest is injured on a homeowner’s property rather than a community space, the HOA is no longer liable (unless the HOA is responsible for the upkeep of homeowner properties, and a lack of maintenance led to the injury). Property owners are generally responsible for their own property, so if they fail to reinforce their porch, shovel their driveway, or maintain building codes, they will be personally liable. The plaintiff would no longer be suing the HOA for negligence, they would be suing the homeowner. This can also be avoided in similar ways, though on a smaller scale; maintain your property, make sure you have insurance, and know where your property begins and ends. Knowing the lines of your property could save your neck if the place of injury were ever in question.

All in all, injury is never a good thing, whether it occurs to a guest or a homeowner. Always use logic when upkeeping your HOA and property to deter potential accidents. If there ever were an accident, be cooperative with anyone who may have been injured. Dangerous incidents may be rare, but you never want to take that chance as it can sometimes have catastrophic consequences on the HOA and personal lives.

Source: Neighborhood Link - Sabrina Robinson
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