When you host neighborhood barbecues or invite your friends’ kids over to play in the yard, you could be responsible if someone gets hurt. Ensure you have premises liability insurance to protect your assets.
What is Premises Liability?
Visitors who suffer an injury while on your property could sue you. You could be responsible for their medical treatment, legal fees and other damages under premises liability laws. Before your next neighborhood party, verify your premise liability responsibility.
Know the Nature of the Injured Party
In general, visitors to your property fall into one of three categories. They may be a licensee, business invitee or trespasser. Your liability and responsibility for a visitor’s safety depend on their classification.
If you have invited or allowed a neighbor onto your property, they’re considered a licensee. You have the responsibility to take reasonable care to ensure a licensee’s safety. For example, if you know one of the deck steps is loose, you should fix the step, but if you run out of time, you can simply warn your neighbor of the danger and not be liable for any injuries.
A neighbor who shops at your yard sale or stops by to discuss fixing your broken steps through her remodeling company falls into the category of a business invitee. In this case, you have invited them onto your property for business, and you must actively inspect your property for safety hazards, dangers and risks and repair any issues before a business invitee steps foot onto your property.
Someone who enters your property without a specific invitation or your implied permission is considered a trespasser. This category applies to the neighborhood kid who opens the gate and plays on your swingset when you’re not home or the neighbor who crashes your barbecue without an invitation. Typically, you don’t have to warn a trespasser of potential hazards around your home or make repairs to keep him or her safe. However, check your local laws because they may include different requirements.
Understand your Status as a Homeowner or a Possessor
Your status as a homeowner or property possessor determines your liability during a premises liability claim. For example, if you rent your home to a tenant, you might not be liable for injuries that occur on the property. Check your local laws to verify your responsibility.
Purchase Adequate Insurance
While you always want to remove hazards and dangers on your property before you invite the neighbors over, purchase homeowners insurance, too. It should have premises liability and adequate coverage for any liability. Your agent can help you analyze your assets and choose appropriate coverage limits that provide financial peace of mind.