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I recently read in the paper a tragic story about a boy who died when a garage door that was propped up by a board fell and pinned the boy underneath. Apparently, when the board gave way the garage door fell onto his neck. He suffocated before he could be found by other family members and rescued.

“A police spokesman said Terry Lee Barnett was tinkering with an electric car when the two-by-four dislodged about 11 a.m. Thursday and he became pinned under the door.”

The report by the police states that the owners of the house knew that the garage door’s spring mechanism wasn’t working, and that the door was prone to falling. The boy was rushed to Riley Hospital, but it was too late.

Indiana law regarding premises liability holds that owners of property who know, or by exercise of reasonable care would find out about dangerous conditions on the property, can be held responsible for harm caused to another person by the dangerous condition. Dangerous conditions on property can take many shapes. For example, people can slip on ice in the winter, fall into holes covered up by flooring or carpeting, or be electrocuted by faulty wiring. The bottom line is that if a person is invited onto another person’s property and is injured by a condition on the property that the owner knew or should have known to be dangerous, then the injured person is allowed to seek compensation for their injuries from the owner of the property.

Clearly, in this tragic case, it would have been far better to fix the garage door than to leave it unrepaired. The death of a young child is always tragic. The death of a young child that could have been easily avoided by simply fixing a garage door is unimaginable.

Remember, it is always better to take reasonable precautions and fix a dangerous condition than to leave it to chance. The bottom line is that none of us should take short cuts when it comes to safety.

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