Who’s Responsible if You’re Injured on the Neighborhood Tennis Court?
Falls are one of the most common types of unintentional injuries. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26,009 Americans died from falls in 2010; the number of injuries is far greater. The risk of a fall increases significantly on poorly maintained property; slippery floors, potholes, and other conditions on land can compromise otherwise secure footing. This is especially true in areas in which people play sports, such as on communal tennis courts. When this happens, the legal system grants recourse to the injured party.
The property owner of a communal tennis court varies; a tennis court accessible to the public may be owned by a private party, by the state, or by a homeowner association. The nature of the owner does not matter, although wealthier owners tend to increase the probability of recovering damages. The nature of the victim in relation to the owner also does not matter provided that the victim was permitted to be on the property. Often, this is not the case.
The victim’s right of access to the property can be an issue on a communal tennis court. Homeowner associations typically authorize residents who pay dues to use the tennis courts, as communal property is paid for and maintained with dues collected from members of the homeowner association. If the victim was authorized to be on the property, he or she is considered to be an invitee in North Carolina; if not, he or she is a trespasser.
In North Carolina, property owners owe trespassers very little. Trespassers, whether they consult a personal injury attorney Charlotte or Cashiers-based, may only recover against property owners if the property owner wrongfully and willfully or wantonly injured the plaintiff. In contrast, property owners who open their lands to others for recreational purposes must warn invitees about hidden conditions on the land that may be hazardous to their health or correct those conditions. Hazardous conditions on a tennis court could consist of broken pavement, spilled substances, exposed wiring from lights, and other problems, and an injured party may be able to collect damages if injured by them.
Liability for property owners is limited to conditions that they knew about or reasonably should have known about. Uneven and cracked pavement and poor lighting arrangements are common examples of latent hazards that a property owner could reasonably discover. In contrast, if a third party creates a hazardous condition and the property owner has no reasonable opportunity to correct the defect, the property owner generally will not be liable for resultant injuries.
Other Liable Parties
Depending upon the nature of the injury, plaintiffs may be able to seek damages against another party. If the defect was caused by a third party, such as another user of the property who spilled water on the court or a contractor who left wiring exposed, victims will be able to recover damages against that third party for negligence.
The law expects people to exercise some degree of vigilance when walking. If the plaintiff could have noticed the hazardous condition by exercising ordinary caution, the jury may find the plaintiff contributed to his or her injury. North Carolina is one of a small minority of states that uses a pure contributory negligence rule, allowing property owners to evade liability if the plaintiff was even slightly negligent.
Homeowner associations maintain communal courts for the enjoyment of the community, which consists of dues paying members. If homeowner associations fail to maintain their properties, it is likely that injuries will occur even with visitors exercising normal degrees of caution. Anyone injured on a communal court who was not at fault should consult with a licensed attorney promptly.
A recreational tennis player, Ann Bailey posts this research for anyone hurt playing neighborhood sports. The Auger & Auger personal injury attorney Charlotte firm skillfully represents anyone injured in civic activities, including “back yard” sports games, due to someone elses negligence or fault.