lip and fall accidents are common causes of serious injuries in Kansas City. Most slip and fall accidents are preventable, resulting in liability (financial responsibility) going to the property owner or another party. When a slip and fall injury occurs at a home or property that is involved in a Homeowners’ Association (HOA), legal responsibility for the accident can be confusing. The HOA may be held accountable for the accident, depending on the circumstances.
What Is an HOA?
A Homeowners’ Association is an organization that is created within a neighborhood or subdivision to create and enforce rules for residents. Anyone who purchases a property within an HOA automatically becomes a member. They must pay HOA fees and obey its rules, such as regulations for exterior decorating and lawn care. In return, the HOA takes care of common area maintenance, community upkeep and other services.
When Is the HOA Responsible for a Slip and Fall Injury?
An HOA is responsible for maintaining a safe premises in the areas where it has control. However, individual property owners still have a legal obligation to properly care for and maintain their premises. The party that is responsible for a slip and fall injury, therefore, will depend on where the fall took place and whether that location was in the HOA’s control or the property owner’s. In general, a Homeowners’ Association is in charge of the following locations:
- Community centers
- Common areas
- Community lawns and greens
- Community gardens
- Community pools or playgrounds
- Building staircases, elevators or escalators
- Parking lots
If you slipped and fell because of a defect in any of these areas, you can most likely hold the HOA responsible for failing to properly maintain a common area. The individual property owner, on the other hand, is responsible for the safety of the inside of his or her home, as well as the lawn and sidewalk in front of the house, in most cases. You may need to review the specific terms of the HOA involved in your slip and fall case to find out whether it was the HOA or the homeowner’s responsibility to keep the specific location where you fell free from defects.
How to File a Claim Against an HOA
If you slipped and fell on a property that is under the jurisdiction of an HOA in Kansas City, you may be able to hold the association legally responsible for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. It will be up to you or your premises liability lawyer, however, to prove that the HOA failed to fulfill its responsibility to keep the community safe and that this is why your slip and fall accident took place. For example, you must show that the HOA knew or reasonably should have known about a cracked sidewalk, did not repair it, and that this caused you to trip and fall.
To have a successful slip and fall accident claim against an HOA in Missouri, there must be evidence that the HOA or one of its maintenance members negligently failed to keep walkways and common areas safe for residents living in the development. Negligence means the failure to use proper care, resulting in injury or harm to others. Then, there must be proof that this failure is why your accident took place – in other words, it would not have happened but for the HOA’s negligence.
Can Non-Residents of the Property File a Claim Against an HOA?
Yes. The injured accident victim does not have to be a resident of the property or a member of the HOA to file a claim against the association. If the HOA caused or contributed to the slip and fall accident in any way, it can be held responsible for the victim’s injuries, regardless of whether the victim is a resident or non-resident. For more information about your rights after a slip and fall accident on a property with an HOA in Kansas City, contact Dickerson Oxton, LLC for a free consultation.