Property Injury scenarios for landlords, businesses, renters and homeowners
We discussed what to do if someone is injured on your property in a previous blog post. We will discuss the legal hoopla and what property injuries mean for the home-dweller side of personal injury cases: landlords, tenants, business owners and homeowners, for this follow up blog post.
In general, guests at residencies are categorized as trespassers, licensee, and invitees, which we will discuss in the next blog. Homeowners are responsible for injuries caused by the conditions or their home. The law states that homes must be kept and maintained in a way in which a "reasonable person" would. Keep in mind what you consider safe or permissible can be deemed unreasonable in the court and cause you to lose a lawsuit.
The standard of reasonableness is determined by circumstances a visitor knowingly knew of, how the property is used, any foreseeable circumstances for the owner or guests, and a homeowners ability to repair a dangerous condition in a reasonable time or warn visitors of dangerous conditions.
Homeowners should ensure their homeowner insurance covers personal injuries to guests and other people on the property. Liability insurance covers a homeowner's negligence but tends to default to the fault of the owner even if they were not the cause. Lawsuits are only likely to occur if the injured person's medical bill exceeds your insurance's liability limit. Luckily, most insurance companies will appoint an attorney to deal with the claim.
Landlords & Tenants
Landlords and tenants should carry homeowners and renters insurance to match their respective status. Most rental agreements place liability on who is responsible for the injury, or who was supposed to prevent the problem. If an occupier/tenant is at fault for their own injury, landlords are generally in good shape. If a tenant or guest's injury is caused by the landlord's negligence--such as not fixing a known issue--the landlord will be held liable for the resulting injury. In addition, the landlord must have been notified in order to be deemed negligent of an issue that arose during the tenant residency. A landlord cannot be held negligence if they were never notified of an issue as they had no opportunity to act.
Outdoor and seasonal scenarios are boiled down who is responsible based on the agreement. For example, if the agreement states the tenant is responsible for snow removal, then the tenant is responsible for any injuries resulting from unmanaged snow or ice. The same applies for landlords if they are responsible for snow removal.
To sum it up, most personal injury cases to guests or tenants will fall into the tenant's hands as day-to-day scenarios on the property are out of a landlords control.
All businesses owners must carry premises liability insurance. Business owners are responsible for anyone who sets foot on their property, even trespassers are protected to a certain degree. To adequately avoid lawsuits caused by injury, business owners must do everything reasonably possible to maintain their property in a safe manner. Regardless, every business will likely have to deal with an injury from time-to-time. Business owners can be held liable if the customer proves:
- The owner knew the dangerous condition existed
- The owner failed to repair the condition in a reasonable time
- The condition was a direct cause of the visitor's injuries
- The visitor did not know of or could not avoid the situation
- The visitor's conduct did not contribute to the injury
- The visitor did not agree to assume the risk caused by the condition of the property
In some cases, both parties may be deemed at fault. In these scenarios, the lawsuit is divided based on a "percentage" of who is at fault. Let's say the total damages for the incident was $1000, a low but simple number. If it's deemed the defendant was 75 percent at fault and the plaintiff 25 percent, then the defendant would be required to pay the plaintiff $750
Any blog published by Friedman Law Offices is not meant to be a substitute or replacement for personalized legal advice. Please consult with a lawyer before making any decision that may impact your legal rights.