Owning a home can be expensive. Not only are you responsible for maintenance and repair costs, but you are also liable for any accidents that happen while people are on your premises. That is why there is something called “homeowner’s insurance.” It is insurance that is supposed to protect you if someone is injured while on your property. It also helps to protect your home from things that can be costly, like a fire or natural disaster.
Homeowner’s insurance is very specific when it comes to injuries. The things that homeowner’s insurance will cover related to injury are:
- Slip and fall accidents
- Injuries that result from serving people who are intoxicated
- Dog bites
- Faulty surfaces or lighting that may lead to someone being injured
The main type of coverage that a homeowner’s policy provides is for any type of accidents or injuries that occur on your property. If you have guests over, and they are bitten by your dog, fall down the stairs, or trip over a toy and injure themselves, your homeowner’s insurance will cover their medical costs.
There are specific rules that define when homeowners are liable and when they are not. If you have someone over who is a social guest, that means that you have invited or welcomed them in. If you have people performing work services, then they also may have implied consent if they should be injured. If someone is not given consent then different rules apply to the liability.
Although as a homeowner you are not responsible for inspecting your home and telling guests all the things that could harm them when they come over, you do have a minimum responsibility to make sure that things are safe. Things that you know are dangerous, such as a missing guardrail on stairs, can open you up to liability if you don’t take reasonable steps to safeguard your guests.
If you live in a region where snow and ice are an issue, if someone slips on ice or snow, it is only covered if there was an unnatural accumulation. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to make sure that surfaces are taken care of and safe for guests. If you don’t take care of your driveway or sidewalk and someone slips and injures themselves, you may be liable and be forced to find a slip and fall lawyer.
If someone is assaulted while on your property you may not be liable if it was not foreseeable ahead of time. If you have a guest over and another person assaults them, or you have an intruder break in and they assault your guest, then it is covered. However, if you knew that someone was on their way to your property to assault another guest and you did nothing to stop them or warn your guest, then the liability could bounce to you.
If someone is bitten by your dog while on your property, there is typically something in place called “strict liability.” That means that the person does not need to prove that they didn’t provoke the dog and the homeowner doesn’t need to prove that they weren’t negligent. If someone gets bitten by your dog, it is almost always covered by your homeowner’s insurance. If they were not a guest or did not have your consent to enter your property, then you are probably not liable.
Depending on where you live, if you serve someone alcohol to the point of intoxication at your house and they get behind the wheel of a car and injure someone, then you are liable. There are exceptions, though. One is if the guest helped themselves to the alcohol and was not served by the homeowner. The other is if there is a third party to testify that the person left their home, not appearing intoxicated.
Homeowner’s insurance is an excellent way to not only protect your guests, but also yourself. If someone is injured at your home, make sure to get an accident report written either by a medical professional or by dialing 911. If it should end up in litigation, documentation will be important. If someone is injured while at your house, it doesn’t always mean that you are liable for their injuries. The best way to protect yourself is to understand your policy coverage and make sure that there aren’t any gaps that are leaving you vulnerable to a personal injury lawsuit.