Homeowners Insurance and Premises Liability

June is National Homeownership Month! If you are a new homeowner, a seasoned one, or even a renter, there are a few things you should know about bodily injury on your property.

If someone is injured on a residential property, there is a chance that the homeowner can be held responsible for the damages. This is because of premises liability, a legal rule that the owner or occupant of a property is liable for injuries that occur on the property if their negligence caused the accident. This last bit means that a homeowner is not necessarily liable for every injury that happens on a property. Accidents that were not due to anything being broken or unsafe may not involve negligence.

However, many situations do involve liability on the part of the homeowner, for example:

  1. Icy or Snowy Entryways: It is the responsibility of a homeowner to correct the danger of conditions like snow or ice. If someone slips on an unmarked spot of ice, the homeowner may be liable for their injuries.
  2. Dog Bites: The law in Washington imposes an absolute liability on the owner of a dog whose dog bites an individual, per RCW 18.08.040.
  3. Improper Safety Measures: Homeowners have a duty to keep their premises safe, so having crumbling stairs or uneven walkways may make a homeowner liable for injuries that result from those hazards.

What should I do as a homeowner?

The most important thing to do as a homeowner is to keep your property safe and free of hazards. Regularly inspect your home for possible dangers, and when you find them, mark them off immediately and fix them as soon as possible.

The other important thing to do is make sure you have homeowner’s insurance. Homeowner’s insurance will not cover all situations. However, it can protect you from being on the hook for damages if someone is injured on your property.

What should I do if I am injured on someone’s residential property?

If you are injured at someone’s home, the first thing you should do is make sure you get medical attention. Even something that initially seems like a minor injury may be serious, so get evaluated by a professional.

You should also make sure to take photos of the hazard. Conditions like ice and snow can change in a matter of days or even hours, and broken walkways may get fixed, so it is a good idea to have a record of what it looked like when you were injured.

Finally, you should consult with a personal injury attorney. Proving fault in a premises liability case is often complicated, and dealing with insurance companies can be a headache, especially for people without experience talking to adjusters. Call us at (360) 876-4800 to set up a free consultation and learn how we can help you get fair compensation.