We’ve all seen the many notices, disclaimers, and warnings signs about certain risks posted in businesses and public places. Some contain general warnings (e.g., “swim at your own risk”), and others warn about a specific danger — damaged equipment, for example. While wording may vary, the signs are meant to notify visitors to the premises that the property owner or occupier may not provide compensation for any injuries that occur on the property related to the forewarned danger. Since the visitors were made aware of the danger, they are expected to exercise caution and understand that they now assume risk for any potential injuries.
Property owners have a legal obligation to keep their property in a condition of safety. They must monitor it for any dangers, and repair or post warnings about those dangers if they wouldn’t be obvious to visitors. This is called “duty of care.” It makes them responsible to act reasonably in the maintenance and care of their property to avoid injury to others. This scope of responsibility includes dangers that a property owner should have known about if reasonable care was being exercised.
Warning Sign Guidelines
Warning signs are meant to prevent accidents by alerting visitors to general or specific dangers in the area. Signs can transfer liability for personal injuries from the property owner to the visitor. But in order to do these things effectively, a warning sign has to meet the following criteria:
- The placement makes it likely that a visitor is likely to see the sign before encountering the danger
- It’s easy to see — not concealed behind plants or other objects or hard to read due to poor lighting.
- The words are easy to read — not printed in small type or light-colored lettering.
- It’s in a language that will be understood by the majority of visitors.
- It follows any local or state ordinances, codes, and rules about signs for that particular danger.
A sign that is too small, can’t be read, is placed somewhere that makes it easy to miss, or doesn’t follow legal requirements is unlikely to alert visitors to the danger on the premises. In these situations, the property owner can be held liable for any injuries that occur related to that danger. This would also be the case if only one sign is posted on a larger piece of property.
How Sanchez & Piñon Can Help
The presence of a warning sign doesn’t automatically shift liability to the visitor. If you’ve been injured on a property and want to pursue legal action, schedule a free consultation at Sanchez & Piñon. We’re committed to getting you the compensation you deserve.