See You In Court!
We unfortunately live in a rather litigious society, and if you’re on the board of an HOA long enough, chances are that you’ll be involved in at least one lawsuit. In this post, we’ll explore the primary reasons people file suits and what you should do about it.
The vast majority of lawsuits that HOAs will deal with are slip-and-fall. In these cases, someone fell on the property and were injured or had some property damaged as a result. Armed with this knowledge, remember that prevention is key. Melt those ice patches and fix those sidewalk cracks!
Because slip-and-fall suits are most common, HOAs will likely be aware that something happened even if they aren’t aware that a suit is coming. You’ll know someone fell or maybe the super saw it. At the very least, you’ll get a preliminary letter trying to resolve the problem before the suit is filed. It shouldn’t come as a surprise.
So what should you do? First of all, don’t get mad. Sure, the person bringing the suit is a neighbor and maybe even a friend, but this isn’t personal. This is business. Deal with it quickly and keep it private. There’s no need to tell the other property residents what’s going on.
After you’ve taken a few cleansing breaths, call your attorney and your insurance company. You’ll need the legal expertise of your attorney and your insurance company should be put on notice. They’ll want to reconstruct what happened, and if you alert them in May about someone who slipped on a patch of January ice, they’ll have no way of doing that. Also, keep in mind that if the incident is covered by your insurance company, they might want to appoint their own lawyer. After that, there’s not much of a rush. You should have 21 days to respond; however, you should speak to your lawyer about your individual situation.
The vast majority of suits never make it to a courtroom. Court cases are expensive, and most often, parties will settle out of court to avoid those expenses. So don’t worry about flop sweating on the witness stand!
The bottom line is that lawsuits happen all the time. If it happens to your HOA board, take the proper steps and soon, you and your resident will be living in harmony again.
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