Slip and fall accidents are a common cause of serious injuries and emergency room visits in West Virginia each year. If a slip and fall takes place on property that is under the care of a homeowner’s association (HOA), the HOA may face liability for the victim’s injuries and medical bills. If you need to file a claim against an HOA in West Virginia, you may need assistance from a personal injury lawyer.
When Can You File a Slip and Fall Accident Claim?
Almost all slip and fall accident claims are based on the plaintiff’s legal theory of negligence. Negligence refers to the failure to act with reasonable care or consideration for the safety of others. In the context of premises liability law, negligence typically refers to a property owner’s failure to maintain or ensure safe premises, resulting in tenant or visitor injuries.
If the premises is under the control of an HOA, the responsibility to maintain a safe property goes to the association. Most HOA management contracts specify the areas that are within the association’s control or supervision. They often include common areas, such as public lawns, gardens, swimming pools, gyms, clubhouses, lobbies, sidewalks, streets, parking lots and staircases.
If a slip and fall accident takes place in an area controlled by the HOA, the HOA may face liability for the victim’s injuries.
What Are an HOA’s Duties of Care?
A duty of care refers to a legal obligation to act in a certain way to avoid injury or harm to others. In a premises liability case, the duty of care belongs to the owner or controller of the land or property where the accident occurred. An HOA’s duties of care to those who live in the community – as well as visitors or guests – include:
- Inspecting common areas for new or concealed property defects. Property inspections should be a part of an HOA’s regular duties.
- Promptly repairing any property defects that could foreseeably cause an injury, including slip and fall accident risks.
- Using warning signs to notify tenants and visitors of potential injury hazards, such as “Caution: Wet Floor” signs during a storm.
HOA contracts will state the association’s responsibilities regarding property care and maintenance in more detail. In general, if a slip and fall accident takes place due to a property defect in a common area that is under the HOA’s control, the victim will have the right to sue the HOA in pursuit of financial damages in West Virginia.
How to File a Slip and Fall Claim Against an HOA
First, report the accident to the HOA. Request a written accident report and remember whom you spoke with. Then, document your accident. Take pictures of the property defect that made you fall before the HOA has the chance to make repairs. Write down the time, date and location of the fall. Check for surveillance cameras that might have caught your accident on tape. If you see one, request a copy of the tape from the HOA.
Go to a medical center as soon as possible for professional care for your slip and fall injury. Keep copies of your medical records and follow your doctor’s treatment plan. Then, when you’re ready, pursue financial compensation for your slip and fall accident by filing a claim. Contact the homeowner’s association in charge of the premises where you fell and ask for its insurance information. Call the insurance company right away to file a claim.
Before you go any further with the claims process, contact a West Virginia premises liability lawyer near you for assistance. A lawyer can help you go up against an HOA to demand fair financial compensation for your losses. A lawyer can also determine if other defendants may share fault for your injury, such as an individual homeowner or a third party. You can trust your lawyer to protect your best interests as the victim of a slip and fall accident on HOA property.