At one time or another most of us have been invited to help a friend or relative out with a home improvement project or simply invited to a friend or relative‘s home to enjoy some leisure time together. I‘m sure very few of us, however, stop to consider what will happen if we are injured while engaging in such activities.
For example, how will the medical bills be paid? The answer is generally that a claim must be made under the property owner‘s homeowner‘s insurance coverage. This can be awkward in case of a friend or relative. However, both you and the friend or relative should ask who should bear the costs of the injuries, medical expenses and other damages? Should you bear these costs? Or should the insurance company which was specifically paid by your friend or relative for just such situations pay?
Once you get past the natural reluctance to pursue a claim against a friend or relative‘s insurance, you should understand some basics of the law surrounding these kinds of accidents, which are commonly referred to as slip and fall accidents. In the event that you are injured while on a friend or family member‘s property the laws that dictate whether you can be compensated for those injuries are commonly referred to as premises liability laws.
These laws require that anyone in possession of land or other property keep the premises safe for users, guests and visitors of the property. Failure to do so can result in liability for injuries sustained while on the property. Understanding how premises liability laws and homeowner‘s insurance coverage work together to protect both the property owner and the injured party can alleviate much of the stress that can arise between family members in the event an injury should occur.
Basic homeowner‘s insurance coverage includes liability coverage. Liability coverage helps protect against financial loss when someone is found legally responsible for causing injury to someone or to someone‘s property. This liability coverage also includes what is called medical payments coverage and provides for payment of medical expenses incurred by someone accidentally injured on your property regardless of legal liability. Typical policy limits for liability coverage begin at $100,000 with medical payments coverage at $1,000 per person, per accident. Many homeowners will carry much higher limits.
The homeowner‘s insurance policy will include a section of “exclusions” which are circumstances for which the policy does not provide coverage. Two important exclusions you should be aware of are as follows:
- Many homeowners‘ insurance policies have a household members exclusion that expressly excludes household family members from bringing claims against the insured homeowner. This exclusion typically does not exclude non-household family members.
- Homeowner‘s insurance coverage does not provide coverage if you are injured by the property owner‘s intentional acts.
There are a number of steps that you should take if you are injured at the home of a friend or family member. There are also important deadlines that may apply to your claims. It is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after the accident. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to walk your through the process to insure that your rights are fully protected under the homeowner‘s insurance policies.