Household Guest Injuries Compensable Under Homeowner’s Policies
Serious household injuries are more common than one might think. In fact, more than 10 million individuals every year visit the emergency room as a result of injuries occurring on their residential property. These residential injuries account for more than 6 million or more insurance claims every year, where victims are seeking financial recompense for their medical expenses, lost time away from work, pain, suffering, mental anxiety and other types of damages and losses.
Common Types of Household Injuries Involving Guests
The most common forms of household injuries involve slip and fall accidents, drug overdoses, backyard drownings, electrical burns and dog attacks. Many residents and visitors are injured every year in slip and fall accidents by falling from ladders, falling downstairs and slipping on spilled liquids and slippery surfaces.
Drug overdoses are sadly a large contributor to personal injury claims resulting in residential injuries and death. Often, prescription medications are kept within reach of young children or experimenting teenagers. While not every overdose causes emergency situations, many can produce allergic reactions.
Many young children, teenagers and adults lose their lives in backyard drownings every year, especially if the victim was intoxicated or fell into the pool or fell asleep and slipped under the water. Many young children lose their lives drowning in small areas including bathtubs and sinks filled with water only inches high. Electrical burns and shocks often occur in the household due to hazardous conditions, faulty wiring, defective devices or malfunctioning appliances.
Liability for Household Guest Injuries
Under the law, victims of injury and household environments have the legal right to seek financial compensation through the homeowner’s policy as long as they are a “licensee” or “invitee”. In household, licensees refer to family members that have the legal right to be in the home when the injury occurred. This also extends to social visitors and friends who might have been injured on the premises. An invitee is any individual who is on the property to conduct business like delivering the mail, clean the pool, or work on the landscape.
Trespassers who have no legal right to be on the premises are typically not covered under homeowner’s policies in the event that they suffer injuries or death on the property. However, the trespasser limitation to financial compensation does not extend to young children suffering injuries or death due to a drowning in the backyard pool who might have wandered into the yard uninvited.
Homeowners are expected to exercise ordinary care to all guests, which means they must do everything within reason to protect guests from danger. A breach of ordinary care leads to possible compensation for any damages received as a result. It is very important, however, to document the incident in order for the victim’s claim to be properly supported. In addition, these financial compensation cases tend to be highly complex where successful resolution can only be obtained through the skills of an experienced personal injury attorney.
Any victim injured on another’s property must inform the homeowner that they have suffered injury. At that time, the victim has the legal right to ask the homeowner for their insurance company information to see if it covers the medical expenses as a result of the injuries. To build a case for recompense, it is important that the victim take pictures and videos to show the cause of the grievance and asked witnesses to write down what they saw. Finally, the victim should obtain their medical records as proof of their injuries to be used to support a claim for compensation.
Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim
It is essential for the victim to contact the homeowner’s insurance companies soon as possible. In addition, the victim should explain the incident to start the process of financial recompense. The claims adjuster will typically respond to the victim within days to obtain further information about the incident.
While it’s important to note the claims adjuster wants to hear the victim’s side of the story, they work for the insurance company and have the carrier’s best interest in mind. The adjuster will typically contact the homeowner for their eyewitness account. Often times homeowners will stretch the truth in an effort to ensure that their insurance premiums remain the same after paying the victim. Many claims adjusters will look for any evidence to deny the victim compensation.
Prosecuting a Homeowner’s Insurance Claim Against a Friend or Family
Premises liability claims for compensation are extremely complex and require the skills of personal injury attorneys to fight aggressively on behalf of their clients. It is up to the victim and their attorney to prove how the property owner failed to provide a safe environment to the resident, visitor or invitee that suffered injury or harm on the premises.