Guest walked into glass door...

by Pat

I have a vacation rental property. Two days after checking in, my guest walked into the sliding glass door, fell on the floor and broke his arm. He was alone and there were no witnesses, but his wife showed up shortly and called 911. When I arrived at the condo the glass door was open so I question whether he actually hit the door.

The day before he had requested that I install a grab bar in the shower, as he has mobility issues. I do not advertise my condo as handicap accessible, nor did they tell me he had mobility issues when they booked. I think he may have tripped on the threshold rather than run into the door. I did not have Homeowners insurance at the time but I do now.

What liability do I have? Is there anything I have to worry about? Can I do anything to defend myself against a lawsuit from this person? Any information you can give about this situation would be helpful. Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Guest walked into glass door...":

Pat (Florida):

You are alluding to the doctrine of premises liability. Premises liability deals with property owners’ legal duty of care toward those persons who are legally upon their property.

Under premises liability, property owners are required to do everything reasonably possible to assure their property is safe for those legally upon the property. This duty includes following all federal, state, and local building codes.

Without homeowners insurance to protect you, it will be up to you to defend yourself in a personal injury premises liability claim which may be brought by your tenant. However, to succeed in a personal injury claim against you will require the tenant to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, his injury was caused by your negligence.

From the facts you present there is no evidence you were negligent. Without a showing of negligence it will be impossible for the tenant to succeed in a personal injury claim against you.

With that said, it is incumbent upon you to check with the building code department in the county in which your vacation property exists. If the building code requires your property to have sliding glass door protection, whether by bars, decals, or other notification, and you failed to follow that code, then the code violation can be used against you by your tenant as evidence of negligence.

If you were not in violation of local building code ordinances, and the injured tenant does not have other evidence proving you were negligent, then you have no legal liability.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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