With Hurricane Matthew having made quite an impact along the coast, it can be relieving to assume that the danger is over. The winds have died down and the warnings have expired. However, studies over the past 20 years suggest that the real danger has just begun.
People are actually at higher risk of dying from a hurricane after the storm has passed than during the winds. This is due in part to the general desire to move on. People are in such a hurry to return to normal and move back into their homes, they are less likely to be on the lookout for potential dangers.
The aftermath of a storm can have a number of dangers. Storm and flood cleanup should not be taken lightly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn those involved in flood and storm cleanup to be aware of potential dangers. These dangers include everything from floodwaters to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Out of the 11 deaths related to Hurricane Matthew, three were in North Carolina. Two occurred when the victims’ cars became submerged in floodwaters, and another happened when the driver’s car hydroplaned. Floodwaters can take time to subside. With debris blocking flow ways and diverting water, the roads remain treacherous.
Following Hurricane Ike in 2008, 14 people died from carbon-monoxide poisoning after gas-powered generators or grills were used inside of or too close to living quarters. These people were simply too eager to return to their homes and ignored the potential risks. Being too eager to return home also causes many people to rush into repairs. Almost half of people who die during hurricane cleanup fall from a roof, ladder or tree.
Premises liability is a type of personal injury case where the injury is caused by an unsafe or defective condition on someone’s property. Following a storm there are a number of unsafe conditions all around. Trees and powerlines are down, generators are being used to generate power, and floodwaters are flowing. The dangers are obviously present, but that does not necessarily mean there is a case for premises liability.
In order for a landowner to have premises liability, certain elements must be proven. The injured person must be able to prove that there has been some form of neglect. He must be able to prove that there was some sort of unsafe condition on the property, that his injury occurred on the property as a result of the unsafe condition, and that the property owner was or should have been aware of the safety concerns. These elements are the backbone of any premises liability claim.
In the aftermath of a storm, it can be difficult to prove these elements. In many cases the storm damage is not considered to be due to neglect unless the unsafte conditions are left unattended. Simply because an injury happens on someone’s property does not mean that the property owner was negligent.
Personal injury and premises liability fault can vary based on the individual circumstances of the incident. Premises liability cases take place either inside or outside a commercial building, residence or even on public property. Properties can be dangerous for a number of reasons including faulty design, shoddy construction, poor maintenance, or dangerous clutter. In the aftermath of a large storm, such as Hurricane Matthew, poor maintenance or dangerous clutter can be all around.
Property managers and owners who don’t properly clean or repair their properties in a timely manner may be at fault for potential injuries which occur on the premises. The property owner has a legal duty to anyone who enters the property. This duty is to keep the property reasonably safe for anyone invited onto the property. Trespassers, however, are not entitled to the same standard of duty.
Safe Cleanup Practices
Cleaning up after a storm can be hazardous. It is important that you take proper precautions to ensure your safety and the safety of those on your property. Quick and efficient cleanup is a priority. Cleanup should be done right and with safety in mind. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Collect loose debris. Following a major event, storm recovery crews are out in force collecting debris piled by the curb.
- Vegetative debris, such as leaves and branches, should be kept separate from demolition debris, such as broken signs and building materials. By keeping these items separate, you are giving clean up crews a hand in properly collecting the items.
- Avoid parking in areas where storm clean up is happening and avoid parking on streets wherever possible. The cleanup process can be messy and dangerous. Parking on the street can lead to damages to automobiles from falling limbs and can prevent workers from reaching debris piles.
- Bring in professionals where needed. After a storm, roofers, electricians and contractors are swamped with work. This is due to the simple fact that the best way to ensure major repairs are done correctly and safely is to bring in someone who knows what they are doing. These professionals are aware of the potential risks that come with repair work and are responsible for their own safety.
Although the storm has passed, the full effects of Hurricane Matthew are yet to be seen. Evacuees returning home are left to assess damages and pick up the pieces. This recovery, while important, should not come before the safety of the residents.
Contact an Experienced Greenville Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, recklessness or intentional misconduct in Greenville, South Carolina or the surrounding area, you should consult with a determined personal injury attorney in Greenville, SC. A personal injury attorney can help evaluate your case, offer guidance and advise you on the damages that you may be entitled to recover. The personal injury attorneys at David R. Price, Jr., P.A. will take all the necessary steps to give you the best representation possible to help make you whole once again. Contact us today to get started with your personal injury claim.
David Price is a Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Collections, and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, and has been practicing law for 12 years. David Price believes in helping those who have been injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.