What if someone was injured on my property?
Many of us own a home and until someone gets injured on our property and sues us, we give premise liability law very little thought.
Take for instance a recent case in Florence County where a homeowner was sued in a premises liability case. In this premise liability case a workman claimed that a dangerous condition had been created by a homeowner because the homeowner had left the sprinkler on and the water from the sprinkler wet the workman's ladder and caused the workman to fall. The workman sustained serious injuries and was suing the homeowner for $650,000.00. The jury found for the defense.
In another Berkeley County case a deliveryman sued a homeowner when he twisted his ankle in a hole on the homeowner's property. Unfortunately, the deliveryman needed three surgeries on his foot and lost substantial wages from the accident. The defendant's attorney argued their client had no knowledge of the hole and their actions had not created the hole. The trial court granted the defendant's motion for a directed verdict.
These examples are common injuries which could occur on anyone's property. Workman, deliverymen, lawn workers, neighborhood children, we assume a risk for every person that we invite onto our property. Does a homeowner have a duty towards guests?
Homeowners do have a responsibility or duty to exercise ordinary care toward those individuals they have invited onto their property, either by express or implied invitation. Workers and contractors are generally considered invited guests.
So what is ordinary care?
It requires you as the homeowner to maintain safe conditions on the property. This includes eliminating all dangerous and hazardous conditions including: water, ice, snow, abrupt changes in flooring, poor lighting, or a hidden hazard, such as a hard to see hole in the ground.
In premise liability cases the courts will evaluate whether the owner had knowledge of the hazardous condition and whether they took appropriate steps to fix the condition or to adequately warn and protect persons who have been invited onto the property.
If the owner does not admit they knew about the condition, the court will evaluate if "constructive notice" existed, which means the hazardous condition had been present for a sufficient amount of time, and the homeowner should have noticed it if they had done a sufficient inspection of the property.
Homeowners Insurance and Premise Liability Lawsuits
So what do you if someone is injured on your property?
Contact your insurance company and find out what type of home liability insurance coverage you have for your property (ideally, you already know). Homeowner's liability insurance provides financial protection for you in case someone is injured on your property. Liability coverage will pay a certain amount in damages for injuries to another person if they are injured on your property. If the injuries were your fault, hopefully your insurance policy will cover the damages of the injured party. If the injuries were not caused by your negligent actions, you should contact a personal injury lawyer for help.
Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
Personal injury lawyers can help plaintiffs who have been injured on another person's property or they can defend claimants who have been sued for an injury on their property.
If you have been injured on another person's property, you may be awarded damages from the homeowner's insurance. It is important not to make a statement to the insurance company or accept a settlement payment until you are fully aware of the cost of your personal injuries and you have discussed your case with a personal injury lawyer.
Although many injuries are minor, some injuries can be very serious. Rehabilitation costs, medical costs and lost wages caused by your personal injury can be very high. Personal injury lawyers have handled hundreds of cases; many just like yours. They can review your claim and make sure your get the compensation you need to recover from your personal injury.