Property owners have a duty to keep their premises safe. This includes any landscaping on the property. Whether it’s a residential home, a business, park or playground, landscaping design, layout and maintenance must not be hazardous to others.
Landscaping Safety Hazards That Could Cause Injury: Trees, Plants
Trees or other plants that block the line of sight could create hazardous scenarios. A low hanging branch or a larger bush could prevent motorists from seeing pedestrians, for example.
It could be that a fruit tree is planted near a path with high traffic. So when it matures the fallen fruit poses a slip hazard. Or landscapers may plant a bush with thorns in an area where children are known to play. If one falls into it, it could cause injuries. Landscaping planning should entail planning for the future, such as considering whether the plant’s seeds or fruits may present slip hazards.
Maintenance is also an important part of landscaping to prevent and correct hazards. For example, roots from a tree could become a trip hazard or cause cracks to form in the ground; property owners must take action to correct this if it occurs.
Landscaping Safety Hazards: Outdoor Equipment
Landscaping oftentimes involves the use of certain equipment like outdoor lighting. In some cases, inadequate lighting might mask a slip and fall risk, for example, or make it unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclists to navigate.
On a playground, it’s important that the surface below the equipment absorbs shock, such as:
- wood mulch/chips; or
- shredded rubber.
If it’s not and a child falls, it could result in serious injuries. An outdoor deck that has a stairway might have missing handrails or the riser height of the steps isn’t uniform. Improper grading could lead to trip hazards as well, such as ruts in the ground that somebody steps in while walking, jogging or running. These cases might lead to a serious trip and fall accident.
If a pool is in an area where it’s considered an attractive nuisance and doesn’t have barriers (such as a gate or fence) to keep out children, children may enter the pool and become injured.
Liability When a Hazardous Landscaping Design Causes Serious Injuries
There are many other types of dangers that can exist when the landscaping design is defective or the property owner does not keep up with maintenance and repairs on the property.
If these landscaping safety hazards cause an injury, the property owner may be liable and the victim may file a premises liability claim. Even if that party wasn’t personally responsible for the design and maintenance, it may be still liable for hazards on the premises.
But this could also extend to others who were involved in the process. Examples include landscape designers, municipal planners, architects and project managers.
In order to pursue a premises liability claim, claimants need to establish that the hazard existed in the landscaping and that it directly caused injury. Of course, the nature of one’s injuries is an important factor in pursuing compensation.
Falling on a piece of fruit and skinning one’s knee wouldn’t warrant legal action. But sustaining a neck or back injury, fractures, or brain damage generally warrants pursuing legal action.
Attorney D.J. Banovitz can help injured parties in Arvada explore and establish liability for the accident and resultant injuries. Set up your consultation by calling 303-300-5060 or contact us online.