When someone enters your property, it is reasonable for them to expect that they will not be hurt or injured. As the owner or occupier of a property, you have a responsibility to maintain a safe environment for anyone who comes onto the property, and if a visitor to your property is injured, you may be held liable for their injuries.
What am I liable for?
Your liability will depend on a range of factors including but not limited to who the visitor was and whether there was something inherently unsafe about the property when the injury or accident occurred .
If someone is injured you may be found to be liable for their medical costs, lost wages or business earnings, damages to compensate them for their pain and suffering and even their legal costs. Even claims for small injuries can add up to a large sum quickly so it is worth staying on top of both home and property maintenance and to have adequate insurance to protect yourself.
Visitor Legal Status
Depending on the circumstances upon which someone has entered your property, there are a few different classifications for visitors.
- Invitee: Invited onto the property of another, such as a customer in a store. This invitation usually implies that the homeowner has taken reasonable steps to assure the safety of the premises.
- Licensee: Enters property for his own purpose, or as a guest, and is present at the consent of the owner.
- Social guest: A welcomed visitor to the property.
- Trespasser: Enters without any right to do so.
Property Conditions & Owner Actions
Determining whether the standard of reasonableness required by an owner toward licensees has been met requires an examination of numerous factors including:
- Circumstances under which the visitor entered the property
- How the property is being used
- Predictability of the accident or injury that occurred
- Reasonableness of the owner’s effort to repair a dangerous condition or warn visitors of the dangerous condition.
If you know trespassers are likely to enter the property, you may have a duty to give reasonable warning to prevent injury. This applies only in terms of artificial conditions which the owner has created or maintains, and knows may be likely to cause serious injury or death.
A landowner’s duty to warn is different with respect to children who aren’t authorized to be on the property. A property owner must give warning if they know a child is likely to be on the premises, and that a dangerous condition on the premises may cause serious bodily injury or death.
A commonly used argument is that the injured person was partially at fault for what happened. A visitor has a duty, in most cases, to exercise reasonable care for his or her own safety. Where that care is not exercised appropriately, the plaintiff’s recovery may be limited or reduced by their own negligence.
A “comparative fault” system in personal injury cases will most likely be used, meaning that an injured person’s legal damages will be reduced by a percentage that’s equivalent to his or her fault for the incident.
About Thayer Innes and Freeman Bunting Insurance Agencies
At Thayer-Innes Insurance Agency and Freeman Bunting Insurance Agency, we strive to provide comprehensive insurance solutions to support Ann Arbor homeowners. Our homeowners’ policies can be tailored to meet your specific risk exposures and provides much more coverage than a traditional policy, giving you the peace of mind you deserve. For more information about our products, contact us today at (855) 395-6316.