A local man who reinforced his mailbox with steel and concrete may become liable for injuries to a driver who hit it. The Ohio Supreme Court heard arguments on whether or not the property owner had a duty to ensure his mailbox would break under a vehicle impact.
The driver hit the mailbox after black ice caused him to slide off the road. The driver hit one mailbox, which collapsed under the impact, before striking the reinforced one. The driver suffered a spinal fracture that caused permanent paralysis. Had the mailbox collapsed, the driver may not have had the catastrophic injury. Is the property owner liable?
Premises liability laws
Premises liability deals with injuries that happen on someone else’s property. The law typically applies to incidents that occur in or directly around structures, such as homes and businesses. The most common premises liability claims include:
- Slip and fall on wet floors
- Dog bites inside or outside
- Trip and fall due to broken sidewalks
A duty of care
Homeowners and business owners should do everything possible to ensure people are safe in and around their property. They have a duty of care to rectify dangerous conditions that may cause an injury. Failing to remedy a hazard that may cause an accident may rise to negligence. This means the owner knew or should have known that a condition existed but did nothing to fix it.
The argument in the case of the mailbox will come down to whether or not it was negligent for the homeowner to reinforce it in such a way that it did not collapse when impacted by the vehicle. This may become a new application of premises liability law depending upon how the court rules.