SLIP & FALL ATTORNEY CAN GET COMPENSATION FOR VICTIM INJURED WHILE VIEWING FORECLOSURE PROPERTY. BANK MAY BE HELD RESPONSIBLE.
A slip and fall attorney normally sues careless property owners. But what is that slip and fall attorney to do if his client is injured on property that has no real owner? Or, to be more precise, on foreclosure property currently owned by a bank?
Normally, a property owner can be held responsible to guests injured by dangerous conditions on the premises. There are some requirements to hold the owner responsible. For example, the victim may have to prove that the owner had prior notice of the danger. Or that at least the owner should have known of the danger. The victim also must prove that the owner had notice far enough in advance to fix the problem.
Would it be fair to hold a bank that has foreclosed upon a house to the same standard?
The issue came up in a 2015 Federal Court decision. Anna and Gary, a couple, were visiting a foreclosed home. Wells Fargo was the bank that foreclosed on the house. Anna slipped on a piece of broken glass, hit her face and body, and suffered severe and permanent injury.
Anna and Gary sued Wells Fargo. The bank claimed that it was not responsible. Wells Fargo argued that it would not be fair to hold it to the same standard as a resident property owner. The bank was obviously not on the property 24/7. Therefore, Wells Fargo wanted the case thrown out of court. Before a trial even took place.
But the judge disagreed. She ruled that a jury must determine whether Wells Fargo should have known about the hazard. Crucial to the judge’s ruling was that the vacant premises had been vandalized about a month before the accident. The police had responded at the time the home was vandalized. The police officers on the scene prepared a report. The victim’s slip and fall attorney argued that Wells Fargo, or at least its property manager, would normally have received a copy of the police report.
The judge ruled that a trial must be held. A jury will decide whether or not the bank should have known about the prior break-in. And, if so, whether that was sufficient notice to the bank of the broken glass hazard.
I agree with the judge’s decision.
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