Visitor Question

Is builder responsible for my fall on makeshift steps?

Submitted By: Anonymous (Cabot, Arkansas)

I am a Realtor in Arkansas. I attended a community Realtor Open House where Realtors preview homes for sale in a small local area hosted by other Realtors.

While touring a house under construction (with an open house sign) I fell on a makeshift ‘stair’ that was being used to enter the house for the agents to preview it. The stair (or steps) consisted of three cinder blocks stacked at the garage entrance. These cinder blocks have been there for some time and are in the MLS photos of the property. When I exited the house, the cinder blocks rolled and I fell. I severed two tendons in my shoulder. I will require surgery and three months of rehab.

Much to my surprise, the builder says he carries no Liability Insurance on his properties even though he says he builds between 90 and 100 houses a year. He says I am “on my own.” He is being a bully now and threatening my livelihood if I sue. What can I do?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Anonymous,

Property owners have specific legal obligations to individuals who are legally upon the property. This is referred to as Premises Liability. Owners must keep their property safe for visitors. If a property owner fails to meet these obligations, and someone is injured as a result, the owner may be held liable for the person’s injuries and resulting losses.

In this case the builder knew, or should have known the cinder blocks presented a clear and present danger to those who may be entering and exiting the property.

Most builders borrow money from banks. Builders borrow money to build homes for sale to the public. As each home sells, the builder pays off a portion of the loan, and keeps an agreed amount for him or herself. To receive these loans, banks almost always require builders to purchase insurance to cover injuries to workers and other third parties who may be injured on the property.

Based on the facts, the builder is clearly not cooperating. Your injuries are serious enough, and the circumstances clear enough, to warrant your speaking with several personal injury attorneys in your area. Most reputable injury attorneys will not charge any legal fees for an initial office consultation. After speaking with several attorneys you will have a better idea of the strength of your claim and the probability of success.

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

Best of luck with your claim,

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