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Rhode Island Personal Injury Attorney / Blog / Personal Injury / Can A Homeowner Be Sued If Someone Is Injured Because Of A Hole On Their Property?

Can A Homeowner Be Sued If Someone Is Injured Because Of A Hole On Their Property?


If you have a home, you probably do what you can in order to keep it safe from people who visit or come onto your property. And when you think of safety, you think of the pool, the floor, or objects on the floor. But one thing that many homeowners don’t think about are holes on the outside areas of their property. These holes can cause a serious problem, and cause serious injury.

Misconceptions About Liability

One thing that makes holes on property so dangerous, is that sometimes, property owners may feel like if the hole is naturally occurring (for example, through the weakening of soil, or even through the digging of a small animal), that the homeowner doesn’t have to do anything.

But that isn’t true; a homeowner has liability for injuries caused by holes, even if the hole is not man-made.

Other times, homeowners may not feel that they have no obligation to repair or warn of holes that they didn’t cause. For example, imagine that the utilities or cable company digs up a part of a homeowner’s property, leaving a small hole, or that a gardener takes out a bush or shrub, leaving a hole.

The homeowner may often feel that this is “their problem,” but in fact, the homeowner has a legal obligation to remedy even holes that may be caused by third parties who were acting with or without the homeowner’s knowledge or permission.

The Homeowners Obligation

So what does a homeowner have to legally do, in order to avoid liability for injuring someone who steps in a hole?

The first thing is to warn people that the hole even exists. This can be done through signage, but it could also be done through some obvious marker, like neon rope or tape.

The homeowner has an obligation to fence off holes. The fencing required will depend on the nature of the hole itself. The homeowner can completely cover the hole, but just shoving shrubs in the hole, or covering the top of the hole with grass, will not make it safe (in fact, it could make it more dangerous, because now the hole is concealed).

Covering a hole requires a covering that is strong enough to withstand the force of someone stepping on it.

Often, homeowners will mark or gate off a hole, but the gate or border still allows someone to step into an area surrounding the hole that is unstable or which will cause the ground to give way when someone steps on it.

Holes Can be Dangerous

If all this feels like a lot of work for a hole—think again. Unknowingly stepping in holes can do catastrophic damage to ankles, knees, hips and a person’s back. When the ground isn’t where it’s supposed to be and expected to be when someone takes a step. The body isn’t ready for impact as the foot goes further down into the hole than the person thought.

Contact our Rhode Island personal injury lawyers at Robert E. Craven & Associates at 401-453-2700 today if you have been injured at someone else’s house, or from a hole in the ground.




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