Injured While Visiting a Friend at Their Home? Here’s What You Should Know:
Whenever you are invited to someone else’s home for a visit, you probably expect them to keep their property safe and to warn you of any known dangers. But in some circumstances, homeowners fail to exercise reasonable care and fulfill those expectations, and the consequences can involve serious bodily injury or even death. If you have ever been injured on another’s property, here is what you should know about your case, known as a premises liability cases, using an example:
The COVID-19 pandemic has finally come to an end, and you get invited to attend a party hosted by your neighbor down the street. You RSVP and are so excited to see your friends and neighbors in-person, all at the same house.
Unfortunately, while at the party, you injure yourself by tripping and falling due to a negligent act or omission on the part of the homeowner, such as a broken staircase at the front of the home. Does the fact that you were cordially invited onto the property change the legal duty owed to you by the homeowner? Yes, it does.
If an individual is injured on a homeowner’s property, the legal duty owed to the individual could vary depending on the status of the injured party at the exact moment that they sustained their injuries.
For example, if there is a dangerous condition on a homeowner’s property, the homeowner may have a duty to act reasonably to guard others against the condition, but the key here is that the duty depends on who the “others” are.
If you were invited onto the property, you are considered a licensee which means the homeowner, by law, must exercise reasonable care under the circumstances. This could mean a myriad of different things, but courts typically define this standard of care by asking “what would a reasonably prudent homeowner do in the same or similar circumstances.”
If you were not invited onto the homeowner’s property (or if you were initially invited onto the property but now the homeowner has asked you to leave and you refuse), you are considered a trespasser. In situations like these, homeowners do not owe trespassers the duty to exercise reasonable care. Instead, the law requires only that the homeowner simply refrain from willful or wanton (reckless) conduct.
To illustrate, let us revisit our post-pandemic party scenario. In this situation, you were invited onto the property and submitted your RSVP. Thus, you were likely a licensee, which means the homeowner owed you the duty of reasonable care, which certainly means they should have had a sound, sturdy staircase ready for their invited guests on the date of the party. Not having done so is evidence of negligence. Since you suffered injuries due to the homeowner’s negligence, you may have a viable claim against the homeowner, given that you sustained a legally cognizable injury. Homeowners have a duty to keep their property safe to visitors especially if they decide to host a social event.
If you have been injured while visiting somebody else’s property, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to know your legal rights on recovering any and all damages.
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