Gretna woman falls through hole in houseboat, sues owner for injuries

Under Louisiana law, property owners have a duty to keep their property in a reasonably safe condition for invited guests or other individuals who have a legal right to be on the property. Determining how far this duty extends, or what this duty encompasses, depends on how this person is legally classified.

Perhaps the greatest duty is owed to invitees, who are defined as “a person who goes on the premises at the express or implied invitation of the owner.” For invitees, property owners owe an invitee a duty to keep the property in reasonably safe condition for use which is consistent with the purpose of the invitation, including the discovery of reasonably foreseeable conditions which may be dangerous.

Second to invitees, with regard to a property owner’s duty, are licensees. A licensee is one who enters premises with the occupier’s express or implied permission but only for the entering person’s own purposes which are unconnected with the occupant’s interest. For licensees, the property owner or occupier must only warn him or her of any latent, non-apparent dangers or defects which are actually known to the occupier or property owner.

Finally, landowners owe a duty, miniscule as it is, even to trespassers. A trespasser, as many know, is one who enters premises without the permission of the occupier or the legal right to do so. For trespassers, property owners must refrain from willfully or wantonly injuring the trespasser, though some courts have held that a property owner may be held liable for intentional acts or gross negligence.

Where a property owner’s maintenance of their property falls below the standard owed to persons on their property—whether that person is an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser—may subject that property owner to liability for any injuries sustained by the visitor.

And that’s precisely what happened to a Gretna woman who allegedly received injuries while aboard another’s houseboat. The injured plaintiff reports that, on February 1, 2014, she was a guest on aboard another’s houseboat when she walked into a dark bathroom and “fell into an open hole in the floor.” The plaintiff further asserts that, as a result of falling through this hole, she had to undergo surgery to “repair a torn meniscus and ACL in her knee,” further causing damages from lost work/wages. Presumably, as an invitee, the houseboat owner owed a duty to keep his premises in a reasonably safe condition for use which is consistent with the purpose for the invitation. Did the houseboat owner breach his duty in this case?

The attorneys at Broussard, David & Moroux have the knowledge and experience necessary to handle premises liability cases and will fight to obtain fair compensation for your injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered harm while on another’s property or while in a local business, contact the attorneys at Broussard, David & Moroux to discuss your legal rights at (337) 233-2323 (local) or (888) 337-2323 (toll-free).

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