Liability for a Fall (Trip, Slip, etc.) or Other Accident from Dangerous Conditions on Premises
Deadlines for filing a Fall (Trip, Slip, etc.) or other premises liability claim in Hawaii
claim arising out of a fall or other
accident resulting from a dangerous condition on property
is generally subject to a two-year statute of limitations
in Hawaii. It should be noted, however, that there are
exceptions to this rule- for example, claims
against the City and County of Honolulu and the
various other Counties must be filed with the appropriate agency
within six (6) months of the date of the accident.
You must file your claims in
court prior to the expiration of such deadlines, or your
claims may be lost—regardless of their merit.
To be wise it is recommended that you contact an attorney right away
after an accident giving rise to injuries occurs. Please do not
hesitate to :
Hawaii Personal Injury Attorney now for a free evaluation of your case.
Hawaii the owner or occupant of real property is required
to take reasonable steps to eliminate any unreasonable risk
of harm posed by the property to people who may come onto
it. Depending upon the situation this may be done either
by correcting a dangerous condition or by warning about
it. The owner or occupant is responsible for conditions
known about and which should have been known about. If you
wish to find out more about Premises Liability law in the
State of Hawaii, please review the Brief Overview set forth below.
examples of dangerous conditions for which liability has
been imposed are:
Unsafe design and/or construction of buildings
Dangerous or unmarked holes, ditches or culverts
Improperly maintained equipment, furniture or furnishings
Overgrown or uncontrolled landscaping which hides the view of vehicular
traffic or causes other dangers
'Slippery when wet' walking surfaces
Defects, holes or obstructions in walking surfaces
Keeping a dangerous animal
Swimming pools without proper safeguards
Brief overview of premises liability and fall accident claims in Hawaii
No Trespasser, Licensee, Invitee Distinction under Hawaii
Pickard v. City and County of Honolulu, 51 Haw. 134, 452
P.2d 445 (1969), the Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii
did away with the traditional classification of persons
coming onto land. This distinction between trespasser, licensee
and business invitee forms the foundation of premises liability
law in many other jurisdictions. (See the Restatement of
Torts (Second) §343). In Hawaii, however, as the Supreme
Court has repeated on several occasions, there is no longer
a distinction between trespasser, licensee (social guest)
and invitee (business guest) for purposes of Hawaii premises
liability law. See, eg., Corbett v. Association of Apartment
Owners of Wailua Bayview Apartments, 70 Haw. 415, 416, 772
P.2d 693, reconsideration denied, 70 Haw. 661, 796 P.2d
The Bases of Premises Liability Law in Hawaii
A. The Premises Must Have an Unreasonable Risk of
general rule with respect to the liability of owners and
occupiers of land is that " [a] possessor of land,
who knows or should have known of an unreasonable risk of
harm posed to persons using the land, by a condition on
the land, owes a duty to persons using the land to take
reasonable steps to eliminate the unreasonable risk, or
warn the users against it." Corbett, 70 Haw. at 415,
772 P.2d at 693 (emphasis added); see also Knodle v. Waikiki
Gateway Hotel, Inc., 69 Haw. 376, 386, 742 P.2d 377, 384
(1987), Bidar v. AMFAC, Inc., 66 Haw. 547 at 559 (1983).
The Possessor of Land Must Have Failed to Take Reasonable
Steps to Eliminate the Unreasonable Risk of Harm
case of Richardson v. Sports Shinko Waikiki Corp., 76 Haw.
494, 880 P.2d 169 (1994), demonstrates that the Hawaii Supreme
Court does not require all unreasonable risks of harm to
be completely eliminated in order for a possessor of land
to escape liability for an accident occurring on its premises.
In that case, the Hawaii Supreme Court affirmed a defense
verdict in favor of a hotel and against the guest who injured
herself on a staple embedded in a meeting room rug. The
Court found that because reasonable steps were taken to
eliminate the unreasonable risk of harm, there was not even
a duty to warn of the danger which remained. After reviewing
the record in the light most favorable to the hotel (because
it was the plaintiffs' appeal), the court stated that the
hotel's efforts at vacuuming, regular cleaning, detection
and monitoring complaints (or the lack thereof) were sufficient
to constitute "reasonable steps" to eliminate
the unreasonable risk of harm.
Warnings of the Condition by the Possessor of Land Must
Be Absent and the Condition Must Not Be Open and Obvious
Warnings of the Condition Must Be Absent
set forth above, in Corbett, supra, the Hawaii Supreme Court
found that a possessor of land can escape liability if it
takes steps to warn users of the land against an unreasonable
risk of harm found on its property.
Typically, this involves
the posting of a sign or the installation of a barrier to
warn and protect against the danger. However, the Hawaii
Supreme Court has found that there are certain types of
conditions which provide their own warning and hence are
not actionable. These are "open and obvious" conditions.
The Condition must not be Open and Obvious
the case of Friedrich v. Department of Transportation, 60
Haw. 32 at 36 (1978), the court found that a puddle- seen
and sought to be avoided- was a danger which was sufficiently
"open and obvious" that it provided its own warning
and no further warning by the owner of the land was necessary.
The Supreme Court of Hawaii stated: "The obviousness
of a risk substitutes for an express warning and satisfies
this obligation." The court went on to state that the
landowner "may reasonably assume that members of the
public will not be harmed by known or obvious dangers which
are not extreme, and which any reasonable person exercising
ordinary attention, perception, and intelligence could be
expected to avoid."
The Possessor of Land must have Actual or Constructive Notice
of the Condition
In the case of Harris v. State, 1 Haw. App. 554, 623 P.2d
446 (1981), the Hawaii Supreme Court stated that the duty
to correct or warn of a condition which poses an unreasonable
risk of harm does not arise until the possessor of land
has notice of the condition. Hence, under Hawaii law, in
order to support recovery in an action where an owner or
occupant is charged with negligence, it must be shown that
the owner or occupant knows or should have known of the
hazard or defect which caused the injury. Liability cannot
be imposed where a landlord or an owner or occupant of premises
has not been put on actual or constructive notice of the
unsafe condition or defect that causes plaintiff injury.
See also, Kellett v. City & County of Honolulu, 35 Haw.
Negligence law in Hawaii does not require an owner or occupant
of land to be an insurer against all accidents that occur
on the premises. However, liability may be imposed upon
a possessor of land for certain conditions which present
an unreasonable risk of harm to ordinarily careful users
of the premises. Once it has been shown that the Defendant
knew or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known
of the condition and that the Defendant did not take reasonable
steps to eliminate the risk or to warn against it, the possessor
of land will then be found responsible to one who is injured
by the condition.
Resources and cases involving falls, trip and fall accidents, slip and fall accidents
OSHA's Tips on Preventing Fall accidents
OSHA provides some tips on maintaining floors and avoiding spills and clutter
in a hospital setting in order to prevent slip and fall and trip and fall accidents.
OSHA recommendations on preventing fall accidents in the construction industry
OSHA states that falls in the construction trade
(the leading cause of death in the construction industry) can
be avoided with proper awareness and prevention.
WEMPLE v. DAHMAN, JANUARY 30, 2004
The Hawaii Supreme Court holds that the test for determining a defendant's liability
for dangerous conditions upon property is the degree of control exercised
by the defendant over the property and not merely the ownership position
of the same- and that the issue of control or amount of control over the premises
is ordinarily a question of fact that should be left to the jury.
ATAHAN v. MURAMOTO, JUNE 3, 1999
Pursuant to Hawaii's recreational use statute, as a matter of law, a beachfront
property owner, who neither charges nor invites people to use his land,
and who neither creates nor perpetuates the dangerous ocean conditions on an adjoining parcel,
is not liable to a party who parks on his property and then walks to and
is injured on the adjoining parcel.