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Ten Tips For Keeping Your Redding Home Safe From Liability Issues | Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel, LLP

Ten Tips For Keeping Your Redding Home Safe

When Redding, CA, homeowners think about keeping their homes safe, some threats that come to mind are wildfires, burglars, and hazards to toddlers. These dangers top the list because in the last few years, wildfires have been devastating to residents of Redding, CA, and the surrounding areas, and the threat of fires continues to be high. Next, while Redding burglary rates have declined since 2014, with an 11.16% decrease from 2017 to 2018, burglary rates in Redding remain above the US average. Finally, young children are at high risk of accidental personal injuries in the home due to choking, falling, or pulling objects onto themselves. 

Most homeowners do not think about safety in terms of their responsibility to keep visitors safe. They should, however, because if a guest or worker suffers a personal injury in someone else’s home or property, the homeowner may be responsible for paying for the damage.  

Liability for Personal Injury in Redding, CA

California laws require property owners to keep their property in a reasonably safe condition. Premises liability laws place a duty of care on property owners to look out for the safety of visitors by 

  • Maintaining the property in a safe condition
  • Inspecting the property for safety hazards
  • Repairing conditions that create possible dangers
  • Providing warnings about dangerous conditions.

This duty to ensure the safety of others includes anyone who is invited on the property, such as friends, yard maintenance workers, and delivery people. It also extends to people the homeowner expects to be on the property, even if permission isn’t granted. For example, if kids in a neighborhood regularly cut across lawns and through hedges while playing, even if they might technically be trespassing, everyone in the neighborhood knows this happens. Therefore, the property owners have a duty of care toward the children. 

If a property owner is negligent in keeping property safe, the homeowner could be responsible for paying for medical expenses, lost wages, physical therapy or rehabilitation services, future expenses, pain and suffering, and more. 

The safety attorneys at Reiner, Slaughter, & Frankel offer 10 tips for preventing personal injuries in and around the home.

1. Don’t delay preventive home maintenance

Routine repairs can turn into dangerous hazards if they aren’t addressed in time. Neglecting basic home maintenance tasks not only decreases a property’s value, it can subject homeowners to lawsuits if the neglect results in personal injuries. Routine maintenance includes tasks such as cleaning gutters, trimming bushes and trees, replacing rotten wood, fixing leaks, repairing worn or loose wires, securing loose railings, and mending frayed carpet.  

2. Establish a regular schedule for inspecting property

Sometimes homeowners don’t notice changes on their property that could be hazards to others. For example, pop-up sprinkler heads might get stuck in the “up” position, causing a tripping hazard. Or the wood on rarely used steps could rot. The best way for property owners to prevent small problems from becoming big headaches is to regularly inspect the property. 

Set a time each month or week to look at areas that aren’t normally visited. Perhaps you have a treehouse that you haven’t looked at since the kids left home—make sure rotting wood isn’t about to fall off it and hit someone on the head. Also, inspect the property after events like big storms to ensure branches and objects aren’t at risk of falling. 

How often you inspect the property depends on several things. If invited guests or workers visit on a daily or weekly basis, you should inspect the property more often. If your property contains many areas that you rarely pay attention to, it’s better to inspect more often than less. 

Courts have not set specific time frames for how quickly homeowners should know about hazards. That determination is generally made in the course of a personal injury lawsuit, and then it’s too late to change the facts.  

3. Fix dangerous conditions immediately

As soon as homeowners know about a dangerous condition, they have a duty to repair it. The court might not require a property owner to stop everything to replace an unstable deck railing, but they do expect the repair to be a priority. The repair should be completed as soon as reasonably possible. Sometimes homeowners must wait to make repairs because of finances or because a repair person’s schedule is booked out for weeks. In that situation, homeowners must still ensure the safety of visitors.

4. Warn visitors of dangers

As soon as property owners know about a potentially dangerous condition, they must take steps to protect others from harm due to the condition. If repairs can’t immediately occur, visitors must be warned. A homeowner should place signs or barriers around hazards. For example, a hidden hole in the ground could be marked with an orange cone, a secured lawn chair, or warning tape. A large, clearly written sign might say “beware of hole.” A loose deck railing might be blocked off with chairs and signs. A verbal warning may suffice, but if the dangerous condition is in a place where it might be encountered by an unexpected visitor, such as a delivery person, a sign and possibly barriers are needed.   

5. Prevent slip-and-fall injuries

The most common premises liability personal injuries include slipping, tripping, and falling. Protect visitors on your property by ensuring that all steps have secure railings, throw rugs and mats won’t slide or curl up on the edges, carpets don’t have loose threads or frayed edges, walkways are clear of debris and objects, and stairs and walkways are well lit at night. 

6. Watch for Water

Water on a property can create several kinds of hazards. Wet tile (inside or out), spills in the kitchen, or puddles concealing rocks or uneven pavement all create dangerous conditions for visitors. Watch for and repair leaks and take precautions after rain.

Swimming pools and hot tubs pose another water risk on properties. Follow all local and state rules about securing pools and hot tubs to prevent accidental drownings. 

7. Keep Kids Safe

Children are naturally curious and have limited experience with items that can hurt them. Adults need to protect children from poisons, choking hazards, and objects that can burn or otherwise injure them. If children live in the home or regularly visit, follow expert advice for creating a safe home environment.

8. Protect Pets

Homeowners should also protect pets. Poisoning, strangulation, and being struck by a car are three common causes of pet injury or death. Keep items that are poisonous to animals, including certain human foods, out of reach of animals. Remember that animals have an excellent sense of smell and may be able to find objects their owners think were well hidden. Protect animals from poisonous plants. Keep pets in safe, secure locations conducive to their health and well-being. 

9. Be Aware of Holiday Hazards 

Holiday decorations can increase the risk of falls and fires. Follow instructions on where and how to place decorations. If electricity is involved, minimize the risk of electrical fires and tripping over wires. Many decorations contain small parts that pose a choking risk to children and animals. Some plants commonly used as decorations are poisonous to humans or pets. After decorating, put away ladders, stools, and tools, and secure trash in a container. Never leave burning candles unattended.

10. Maintain Your Homeowner’s Insurance Policy

This tip isn’t about preventing accidents. It’s about preventing financial ruin. Sometimes, despite a homeowner’s best efforts, an accident occurs. In that situation, the homeowner should have taken preventive steps to protect her financial interests. All property owners should have homeowner’s insurance that includes personal liability and medical coverage if personal injuries occur. Talk to insurance companies about the type of homeowner’s liability insurance policy you need to ensure you don’t lose your home to pay for a visitor’s injuries. 

When to consult a personal injury attorney

Along with knowledge of repair people and insurance coverage, homeowners should know what kind of attorney can help them if a personal injury occurs. If you or a loved one is hurt because of a property owner’s negligence, the experienced Redding, CA, personal injury attorneys at Reiner, Slaughter, & Frankel can help. Call them today for a free consultation about your injuries.  

 

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Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel is a nationally recognized law firm located in Redding, California. The firm has achieved a peer-reviewed listing as Pre-Eminent Law Firm by Martindale-Hubbell. Two of our lawyers have been recognized in Northern California Super Lawyers. Reiner, Slaughter & Frankel has won over 98 percent of the cases that have gone to trial.

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