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Rhode Island Appellate Court Upholds Dismissal of Property Owner in Broken Staircase Injury Lawsuit

When it comes to keeping premises safe, Rhode Island imposes a duty on landowners to use reasonable diligence in repairing and maintaining the property and to provide necessary warnings for conditions that cannot be repaired. The dedicated Rhode Island premises liability lawyers at Bilodeau Capalbo have handled a wide variety of these cases. We have the experience it takes to help you assert your right to compensation after a careless landowner causes you to suffer injuries.

A recent Rhode Island appellate opinion discusses the liability of a landowner for injuries that the plaintiff sustained as a result of an allegedly faulty staircase. The plaintiff resided at a property that the defendant owned, where the defendant also resided. On the evening of the accident, the plaintiff was talking on her cell phone as she climbed a wooden staircase that led to the front porch area of the modular home in which she lived. She testified that as she reached the top of the stairs, she felt herself falling through the stairs, and her feet eventually hit the ground. She alleged in her complaint that she experienced numerous injuries as a result of the fall. The plaintiff’s complaint asserted a cause of action for negligence against the defendant, stating that he had breached his duty to maintain the property in a reasonable and safe manner.

The plaintiff also testified that she did not notice anything unusual about the stairs and that she had used the same stairway to exit her home earlier that evening. The plaintiff secured a new attorney, who amended her original complaint to include a claim for res ipsa loquitur, which is a legal theory providing that the occurrence of a particular accident implies the existence of negligence. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, stating that the defective condition had not existed on the property for a long enough period of time for the defendant to have reasonable notice or actual notice of its existence.

The lower court concluded that the plaintiff failed to offer any evidence showing that the defendant had acted negligently. The lower court entered judgment in favor of the defendant, and the plaintiff appealed. On review, the appellate court agreed with the lower court, finding that there was no evidence in the record showing that a defect in the step existed for a sufficient period of time for the defendant to take notice. The appellate court also noted that the plaintiff even testified that no other stairs in the staircase appeared to be defective and that she had used the staircase earlier that evening.

If you have suffered injuries as a result of a property owner’s failure to keep his or her premises in good working condition, you can file a negligence action against him or her to recover compensation for your injuries. Understanding the scope of liability and whom to name in the lawsuit can be confusing, particularly if you are also coping with serious injuries and major disruptions to your life. The dedicated personal injury attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo are standing by to help you assert the full extent of your legal rights. To schedule your free consultation, call us now at 401-300-4055 or contact us online.

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