Liability for getting injured working in an RV park after hours?
This last weekend a friend of mine was injured by falling off a ladder in an RV park. He has 2 compression fractures in his back and a mild concussion. He fell off the ladder while he was working off the clock in a secure stable work location that was locked.
He had only been working "off the books" for approximately a week, hired to trim hedges and clean up the park, but he checked on water pumps for the park on his off time. The water went off in part of the park after hours, and instead of going to the Manager of the park or calling him, my friend admitted he took it on his own initiative to go to a locked area to reset the water pump for the park, and this is when he fell.
He was not on-call for the park, he was on his way out for a date with his wife. He thinks he can receive workman's comp or possibly medical bills all paid, free rent and electricity, because the park manager is on Social Security Disability.
My friend is on social security and medicare, and the owner of the park knows this as well. I am afraid my friend and his wife are going to sue the park and possibly lie about how things happened, because I told his wife they can't legally do anything because he chose to check the pump in a locked area after work hours, instead of contacting the Park Manager.
Is this correct? Is the park not liable for my friend's injuries because it was after work hours, and he went to check the pumps on his own initiative? Or is the park liable regardless? Thank you for any info you can give about this situation.
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ANSWER for "Liability for getting injured working in an RV park after hours?":
You raise some interesting issues...
First: In most cases, workers' compensation will cover medical bills and related costs when an employee is injured "on the job" while performing his or her normal work duties. Clearly, your friend was not on the job when he sustained his injuries. As a result, workers' compensation likely does not apply.
Second: Even in the absence of workers' comp coverage, for your friend to recover compensation from the park owner, he will have to prove negligence. From the facts you present, there's no evidence the park owner or manager was negligent.
Third: Property owners are bound by the legal doctrine of Premises Liability. This means a property (premises) owner has a legal duty to exercise reasonable care in making his or her property safe for people who are legally upon it.
When a property owner or designated manager knows, or should know a dangerous condition exists on the property, they have a legal duty to correct or abate the danger. Failing to do so constitutes negligence, incurring liability.
When a property owner or manager fails to repair or abate the dangerous condition, those who may be injured by the dangerous condition have a right to pursue the owner for medical treatment and related costs. In this case, your friend fell off a ladder. There is no evidence the ladder was owned by the property owner, nor did the ladder represent a dangerous condition.
While anyone can sue anyone else, at any time, that doesn't mean the lawsuit has any merit. Your friend's case does not appear to have merit. As a result, your friend will likely have a difficult time finding an attorney to accept his case. Nonetheless, it's worth his time to meet with an attorney to review the facts of his injury.
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,
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