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Hawaii property owners tasked with public safety duties

Property owners in Honolulu and other areas in Hawaii have a duty to protect the safety of the public in and around their premises. Tourists and residents are entitled to pursue premises liability lawsuits if they should suffer harm due to the negligence of a property owner. It would only be natural for you to expect public areas to be safe, but potential safety hazards could be anywhere -- often where you would least expect them.

Hazards can be present on busy sidewalks, in parking lots or inside buildings. Uneven or slippery walkways or floors, potholes in parking lots, or cluttered exits are all potentially dangerous areas that can cause life-changing injuries. Further hazards come in the form of robberies or assaults, many of which could have been prevented had the property owners provided sufficient security measures to protect public safety.

Responsibilities of property owners

Managers or owners of property must develop effective security and premises liability protocols to control the levels of safety exposure to visitors to their facilities. Here are three main types of potential hazards that require ongoing monitoring by property owners -- and where you might want to take special care:

1.      Slips or trip and fall hazards

  • Slippery surfaces can be a danger indoors and outdoors. They can occur due to wet weather or poor drainage systems outside, or spills of liquids and leaking fridges inside. Polished stone and gloss-finished tiles can also cause slip-and-fall accidents.
  • Randomly packed merchandise on the floors of supermarkets can lead to trips and falls.
  • Uneven walking surfaces or floors and walkways in disrepair can pose additional hazards, along with sudden changes in elevation or damaged stairs or steps.
  • Walkways must have proper lighting with well-marked transitions.

2.      Fire and life safety hazards

  • Fire or other emergencies that require quick evacuation can occur at any time, and property owners must ensure all emergency exits have proper lighting and illuminated exit signs.
  • Clear markings must indicate routes that lead to emergency exits, and these must be free of obstructions.
  • Posting a floor plan for emergency evacuation in an eye-catching location can be helpful.
  • Maintenance of fire detection systems, extinguishers, sprinkler systems and emergency door locks is vital.

3.      Robbery and assault hazards

  • Property owners can often access the threat level of these hazards based on past criminal events, their type of industry, their geographical location and more. They can also work with law enforcement to establish proper security.
  • Properly trimmed trees and shrubs can minimize hiding spots for offenders waiting for potential victims.
  • Adequate lighting can be a deterrent for perpetrators in areas that are dark such as staircases, parking lots and more.
  • Security cameras and video monitoring can assist security guards to prevent criminality and can be used as evidence when necessary.

Whether you are a resident or a tourist in Honolulu, you may avoid suffering injuries by being vigilant at all times. However, if you should suffer injuries in an unfortunate incident on public premises, you will be entitled to pursue financial relief through civil courts of Hawaii. You will have to establish negligence on the part of the property owner and provide the court with a documented list of financial and emotional damages sustained. If successful, the court will adjudicate the claims and award you with a monetary judgment.

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