There are some types of accidents that can happen anywhere, even in your own home or someone else’s property. In fact, accidents can be just as common or more common in your own home than anywhere else. Part of that reasoning is that you simply spend a lot of time in your own home, so it stands to reason that you could slip and fall, trip over, suffer a burn or scald in the kitchen, get bitten by your own pet or get electrocuted by an electrical fault. There are even car accidents, typically when a vehicle is reversed out of a garage or down a driveway.
Of course, you can hardly blame anyone else if you are injured at home. One of the few exceptions would be if you have been hurt by a defective appliance. But what happens if you visit a neighbor, friend, or relative and suffer an injury while on their property? Is the property owner liable for compensation?
Homeowners are unlikely to have premises liability insurance
Commercial enterprises like restaurants, bars, hotels, stores, and supermarkets, as well as government buildings that the public frequently visits, will almost invariably have premises liability insurance. This protects them if someone is injured while on their property. For example, if you go to a fast food outlet and are scalded when an employee drops hot coffee down your front, you may have grounds to file a personal injury claim against the company. If you trip over when leaving an escalator in a department store and break your arm, you may be able to claim compensation from the store. If you can prove that the injury was somehow the fault of the property owner or an employee of theirs, then compensation may be paid out of premises liability insurance.
Most ordinary homeowners, however, are unlikely to have premises liability insurance. It would be an extra to the normal house or property insurance and on extra too much for most homeowners. In this regard, it is different from compulsory insurance as a car owner. The thinking is that you have a greater chance of hurting another person when driving than a guest in your own home.
Making a claim after an injury in a private home
Even thinking about making a claim for compensation after an injury in a friend/neighbor’s house can be problematic. If your injury was only minor, for example, a bump on your head or a small graze or cut on your arm, it’s unlikely you will make a fuss about it if you know the person well. But if you have a serious injury and you need hospitalization and extensive surgery, you would naturally be wondering who is going to pay the bills, especially if your own health insurance wasn’t going to cover the expected total cost. The property owner could be liable if these three criteria were met:
- You had been invited onto the property
- The accident wasn’t your own fault
- The injury was caused by negligence on part of the property owner
Technically, if all three criteria are met, then you have the right to sue that person for damages. Of course, whether you would actually go ahead and take legal action or not depends on other factors as well, such as the nature of your relationship with the property owner and their attitude to your injury, how much you can claim from your own health insurance, whether the property owner has taken out extra insurance which might cover situations like this, what assets they have at their disposal if they were sued to pay compensation, etc. The possible permutations are quite numerous.
The best advice if this has happened to you is to discuss the accident and your legal options with a personal injury attorney before taking any premature action. In Jackson, you can contact a dedicated and experienced attorney at the Diaz Law Firm at 601-607-3456.