What is our liability if we had a friend staying with us in our private subdivision and he fell through a PVC rail off our bridge breaking his ankle and tibia?

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What is our liability if we had a friend staying with us in our private subdivision and he fell through a PVC rail off our bridge breaking his ankle and tibia?

He was told not to lean against the rail 1-2 weeks earlier and did it anyway. He is on disability and I think looking for a buck. The bridge is on a road into our subdivision and the rail has been there for years with no problem. We don’t have an HOA anymore. Would we all be liable or is it the liability of the property owner’s on the side he fell off?

Asked on May 9, 2014 under Personal Injury, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Potentially, whomever was responsible for maintaining that rail could be liable. Even if you don't have an HOA, it is likely the community as a whole, because it is most likely not the case that the rail or bridge is owned by a single property owner. Who owns the bridge and would repair it if it fell down or was damaged--that will help determine who may be liable.

If the railing was known to be too weak or risky--which is probably the case, if he was being warned against leaning on it--then it is likely that it was negligent (unreasonably careless) to not replace or repair it so that it was strong enough (PVC is almost certainly an inappropriate railing material); that negligence would give rise to liability. If he was warned, however, he would also have been negligent to at least some degree, and his own culpability should reduce what he could recover in a lawsuit.


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