Fortified Mailbox Results In Personal Injury Lawsuit
An Ohio couple can feel relieved after they were found not responsible for a driver’s injuries. According to the lawsuit, the driver lost control of his vehicle and struck a heavily fortified mailbox. Since the mailbox did not give way when struck by the vehicle, the vehicle took the full brunt of the force and caused massive injuries to the driver.
The lawsuit made it all the way to Ohio’s Supreme Court. The decision to deny the claim was reached on a 5 – 2 basis by the court. The issue involves what kind of duty of care that homeowners owe to drivers who leave the road. According to the Ohio Supreme Court, homeowners owe absolutely no duty of care to drivers who leave the road and cause property damage.
Understanding the arguments
The plaintiff alleged that the fortified mailbox presented an unreasonable danger to other drivers on the road. He filed a premises-liability lawsuit against the homeowners for the dangerous condition that led to injury. However, every state restricts premises liability lawsuits considerably. For example, a trespasser or other individual who has no right to be on the property is severely restricted in what types of personal injury lawsuits they can file based on premises liability. One small exception is made in the case of children who are attracted to dangerous places left open to the public. However, a driver losing control of his vehicle and striking a fortified mailbox has no right to sue under this Ohio decision.
Further, this means that Ohio residents can put up all the fortified mailboxes they please without worrying about lawsuits filed against them.
What is potentially actionable?
In Ohio as in Florida, a homeowner is not allowed to restrict road access or otherwise make public roads more dangerous to travel. However, the duty of care extends no further than the road itself. Hence, a plaintiff cannot claim that they were injured due to a fortified mailbox unless that mailbox was obstructing the road. In a dissenting opinion, the supreme court justices noted that the defendants had created a “mini fortress” to protect their mailbox. Ohio law would allow a lawsuit for creating an “unreasonable” obstruction in the right of way. That matter should be allowed before a jury.
In Florida, it likely would have been allowed to move to trial. At that point, the jury would have determined if homeowners owe a duty of care that extended beyond the roadway. Nonetheless, Floridians may balk at being required to consider how protecting their mailboxes may impact careless drivers on the road.
Talk to a Tampa Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve been injured in a fortified mailbox accident, call the attorneys at The Matassini Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation and we can begin discussing your options immediately.