Homeowners have a responsibility to keep people walking in front of their house safe. Allowing leaves, debris, and other trip hazards on the front sidewalk could fall under the legal description of neglect. If anyone were to slip and fall, the homeowner might be liable. "Might" is the key word here. One element of liability is the owner has to know about or should know about the problem. When a storm rolls into the area in the middle of the night, questions about liability become more complicated.

The Storm Contributes to a Hazard

A brutal storm may arrive and cause significant flooding. Flooding might pile debris up on the sidewalk. If the owner immediately cleans up the mess, they could reduce potential claims for liability. What happens when a bad storm tore out a railing or part of the front steps? The debris sent onto the street or sidewalk could present a tremendous hazard. Due to poor visibility, a car, pedestrian, or bicyclist may run into the debris and suffer an injury at night. Is the homeowner liable, though? A few factors might require examining.

The Condition of the Steps

Some questions may surround the condition of the steps. Things to consider include:

Strictly Weather-Related Damage: 100 mph winds might be the sole reason the steps tore apart. That said, the owner's response may factor into claims of negligence. Did they take immediate steps to remove debris or set up caution tape? Failure to take appropriate action might lead to liability claims.

Owner Neglect: Steps that presented severe defects such as rotted or broken wood would doubtfully handle severe weather. Someone living in a hurricane area should realize the potential hazards of allowing home structures to fall into neglect. When the "perfect storm" arises, and the steps come apart, an owner may be liable for damages.

Defects with the Construction: Were the steps poorly installed by a contractor? When contractors do a terrible job and build steps or other structures with mistakes, they may face negligence claims.

The behavior of the person suffering the injury might be relevant to the injury claim as well. Was the person taking an inherent risk by traveling during the height of a storm? Doing so may fall under the description of contributory negligence.

Speaking with an Attorney

Many questions do arise regarding negligence based on the specifics of the incident. A personal injury lawyer is best suited to pose the questions to, whether filing suit or requesting defense counsel.