Property owners generally take care to make sure that their properties are kept up and free of dangerous defects that can hurt other people. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes people get hurt because property owners fail to undertake necessary maintenance or otherwise let their property fall into a state of disrepair.
Thankfully, Louisiana law gives people who have suffered injuries because of a negligent property owner a powerful remedy.
Louisiana Vice, Defect, and Ruin Statute
The Louisiana Civil Code gives an injured party a general tort remedy against a negligent party. But, there is a specific Civil Code article directed to property owners.
Article 2317.1 of the Civil Code provides as follows:
The owner or custodian of a thing is answerable for damage occasioned by its ruin, vice, or defect, only upon a showing that he knew or, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known of the ruin, vice, or defect which caused the damage, that the damage could have been prevented by the exercise of reasonable care, and that he failed to exercise such reasonable care.
But what does that mean? To simplify it, this law imposes a duty on property owners who knew or should have known of problems with their property. If they know of these defects and fail to correct them, they are liable for injuries caused to somebody else if the injuries could have been prevented had the problems been corrected.
This law can be applied to a wide variety of situations. For example, if you know that you have a loose handrail on your stairs, you would be liable if the that handrail caused somebody to slip and fall. But it is not just homes and other properties that are covered by the statute; it also applies to machinery and other equipment.