Q: What actions might a homeowner do rise to the level of negligence when someone gets hurt on their property?
A common example of a homeowner’s negligence, done without a thought about safety to people who may visit them, is when someone removes a stairwell handrail to a basement or an attic in order to move things upstairs or downstairs with more room and without the risk of damaging the railings. It’s not uncommon for homeowners to do that and then fail to replace the handrail when they’ve finished.
The handrail is required by nearly all building codes for a very good safety reason: to put it simply, they keep people from falling down the stairs and getting injured on your property. If you’re a homeowner and this scenario sounds familiar, please stop reading this blog post and spend some time re-attaching that handrail right now.
Another common maintenance issue is failing to make sure that the carpet on the stairs is properly affixed. A loose carpet is a fall hazard. Likewise, motion-detecting lights that may shut off while someone is descending the stairs is another common cause of injuries in a home. People need to be able to see clearly while on your stairs.
There are other simple tasks when not done, can cause hazardous conditions. For example, if there is inclement weather, which is often the case in Wisconsin, and people are coming in your house, you should make sure that there are rugs so that people don’t go slip on your nice hardwood floor in the front hall or on the tile floor in the kitchen.
Outside maintenance issues bring us back to the issue of hand rails. Homeowners take them down, thinking that the railings are unsightly, without recognizing their role in safety, especially on an icy day.
Failure to shovel and salt can lead to falls and serious injuries. Additionally, when home owners direct downspouts to walkways, they have created an “unnatural accumulation” of ice which can result in falls and liability.