Unsafe Property Conditions - Slip and Fall Accidents

The lawyers of Gilloon, Wright & Hamel, P.C. practice personal injury law involving unsafe property conditions including slip and fall accidents all over the State of Iowa. Call or email us now and one of our experienced attorneys would be happy to answer any questions you have and talk about helping you with your Iowa premises liability case.

This section will provide an overview of the Iowa law relating to claims based on unsafe property conditions. Frequently, this will involve slip and fall or trip and fall type accidents. However, any unsafe conditions on property can potentially lead to injuries and claims for compensation.

GENERAL RULES CONCERNING LIABILITY FOR UNSAFE PROPERTY CONDITIONS

Iowa traditionally followed the common law approach that the amount of care that a property owner owed to a visitor varied depending on the specific purpose that the visitor had in being on the property. In 2009 the Iowa Supreme Court adopted a multi-factor approach for determining whether a land owner would be liable for injuries on his property:

"We impose upon owners and occupiers (of land) only the duty to exercise reasonable care in the maintenance of their premises for the protection of lawful visitors. Among the factors to be considered in evaluating whether a landowner or occupier has exercised reasonable care for the protection of lawful visitors will be: (1) the foreseeability or possibility of harm; (2) the purpose for which the entrant entered the premises; (3) the time, manner, and circumstances under which the entrant entered the premises; (4) the use to which the premises are put or are expected to be put; (5) the reasonableness of the inspection, repair, or warning; (6) the opportunity and ease of repair or correction or giving of the warning; and (7) the burden on the land occupier and/or community in terms of inconvenience or cost in providing adequate protection." Koenig v. Koenig, 766 N.W.2d 635, 645-646 (Iowa 2009)

Owners of real estate are not absolute insurers or guarantors of the safety of visitors to their property. Visitors also have to exercise reasonable care to observe and avoid dangerous conditions.

In some situations a visitor will be excused from noticing a dangerous condition if the property owner is responsible for distracting the visitor's attention to possible dangers by drawing the visitors attention to other items such as goods for sale.

The Iowa law of comparative fault discussed in the auto accident practice area applies to premises liability claims. Therefore, a visitor who is injured by an unsafe property condition who is partly responsible for his injuries may have his right to collect damages reduced or barred.

LIABILITY FOR INJURIES ON PUBLIC SIDEWALKS

Under Iowa law even though sidewalks are public property, the abutting property owners are responsible for removing the natural accumulation of snow and ice within a reasonable amount of time. Failure to use reasonable care to do so can make the abutting property owner liable for resulting damages.

Additionally, property owners can be liable for snow and ice on public sidewalks which they artificially made more dangerous such as having downspouts direct water which later freezes onto the sidewalks.

Although the abutting property owners have a duty to remove snow and ice, persons walking on the sidewalk also have a duty to exercise reasonable care to detect and avoid dangers on the sidewalk. A walker's failure to do so can lead to fault being assigned to them under Iowa comparative fault law which can reduce or even bar their ability to recover damages.

LIABILITY OF LANDLORDS

Under Iowa law landlords have a duty of care to protect tenants and visitors to the property from reasonably foreseeable harm and must act as a reasonable person to provide a safe environment. A landlord's duties are especially applicable to common areas under the control of the landlord such as hallways, stairways, and elevators. The landlord also has a heightened duty to alert tenants to hidden defects of which the landlord has knowledge.

QUESTIONS

Call or email us now, and our lawyers would be happy to talk to you about your Iowa unsafe property case and answer your questions without charge or obligation.