Homeowners’ associations (HOAs) have a wide variety of responsibilities for maintaining and managing their properties. But can they bear any liability for injuries resulting from accidents that occur on an association’s property?
Factors tied to HOA liability
Many people tend to assume that if they get hurt through no fault of their own on the association’s property, the HOA will be liable for the accident. This often is not the case, however. The injured person must be able to prove the HOA did not fulfill its duty of reasonable care, and that it did in fact control the premises on which the hazard was located. That control is defined by the HOA’s authority to manage, supervise or regulate the premises in any way.
However, determining this control is only one aspect of determining whether or not the HOA can be held liable.
The HOA could argue a dangerous condition did not exist — the hazard might have been trivial, such as an extremely small crack in a walkway. The HOA might also argue it did not have proper notice of a defect or dangerous condition. If, for example, a resident or visitor caused a dangerous condition just moments before the accident occurred as a result of that condition, the HOA could not be held liable.
The HOA also does not have to constantly inspect its own premises to a great degree of detail — it simply needs to reasonably look over its property to ensure it’s in safe conditions for residents and visitors. There are no specific rules governing these inspections, but HOAs should develop written reports and preserve them as documentation of these inspections for at least four years, after which the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Florida comes to an end.
For more information about potential HOA liability when you’re filing a personal injury claim, consult an experienced Bradenton attorney with Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez, Murphy & Walsh.