When you own property, you have a lot of responsibilities, and ensuring people don't get hurt on your property is one big one. Luckily, just because someone gets hurt, it doesn't mean you're going to get sued and have to shell out a fortune. Learn a bit about when someone is injured on your property.
The Homeowner's Responsibility
Part of being a homeowner is keeping the property in a condition that is safe for visitors. This is known as premises liability. For example, if you have a wooden porch in the front of your house with decayed boards, and someone falls through, injuring themselves, you may be responsible. It was your job to keep the porch in a condition safe for walking.
However, to really be responsible, you have to be found negligent. Basically, this means that you knew about the safety hazard and you did nothing about it. In some cases, you can still be found negligent even if you were unaware of the hazard. If the court determines that a reasonable person would have noticed the hazard, then you can be held responsible even if you claim you had no knowledge. In the example with the bad porch, if the wood had been decaying for some time, you probably noticed the sagging and cracking, or you should have. Thus, the injury could have been avoided.
Visitor, Invitee, Licensee or Trespasser
There are different types of people who enter your property, including a visitor, invitee, licensee and a trespasser. A visitor and invitee are similar, except that an invitee is someone you specifically invite onto your property, while a visitor may be a friend who stops by unannounced. A licenses is usually someone entering your property for their own reasons, such as a mail carrier. Last, a trespasser is someone who has no right to enter your property.
Visitors and invitees are the ones who have the better chance of successfully suing you because you have a duty to provide reasonable care to the property to keep them safe. With a licensee the landowner still has some responsibility, but not as much as with a visitor and invitee. With a trespasser, there is typically no duty to offer a safe environment because they should not be there in the first place.
Children and Injuries on Your Property
Cases with children are handled a little differently. If they spot something on your property that catches their eye, children are more likely to investigate it than adults, even if they don't have your permission. This is known as attractive nuisance, and you are required to protect children from this nuisance even if they are trespassing.
Attractive nuisances are anything that can attract children but also pose serious risk, such as pools, wells, tunnels, stairs and machinery. Something designed for children, such as a play structure can also become an attractive nuisance if it isn't well maintained and can break while children are using it. Try to keep anything that might attract a child safely secured. For example, if you have a pool, ensure it is fenced with a locked gate.
If an adult is injured on your property, the court may not put all the responsibility on you. While you should take every step necessary to warn visitors of possible hazards, it is also the visitor's responsibility to be aware of their surroundings and exercise caution. Just because someone walks onto your property doesn't mean you are solely responsible for their wellbeing.
When both parties are at fault, it's considered comparative fault. The injured person can still sue you and win money. However, the amount awarded to them is reduced by a percentage based on their responsibility. For example, if the count finds that both parties were exactly equally responsible, the injured party will only get half of the total damages.
Always try to do the most you can to eliminate potential hazards or warn people about them. Even if you do get sued, if you can show you took steps to prevent the injury, you'll have a better chance of winning or paying less. For more information about what to do when someone is injured on your property, contact an attorney from a site like http://www.dlplawyers.com in your area today.