Can a Homeowner Be Liable for for Injuries to Visitors?

Posted on 11-24-2015 by
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Owners owe a duty of care to visitors of their property. While businesses are often discussed under this area of law, homeowners should also make themselves aware of their duties and possible consequences of not meeting them.

Three Types of Visitors

Under premises liability laws, there are three types of visitors who may come into your home or on your property. To begin, a licensee is a person you invite onto your property for a variety of reasons.

Examples include:

  • The family members you invite for the holidays;

  • The business partners you invite for dinner;

  • Your friends who stop by for a cup of coffee; and

  • A solicitor if not prohibited by signage.

As a homeowner, you owe a licensee a duty of reasonable care. You must take steps to prevent injuries. This means that you must provide adequate warning for any dangerous conditions that you know or should know exist. Therefore, if you are inviting licensees to your home, it may be in your best interest to inspect your premises for any potential problems.

A business invitee is a person you invite onto your property for the purpose of conducting business. Examples include:

  • A contractor who is working on your house;

  • A cable installer; and

  • Customers to your garage sale.

Your duty of care is highest in these situations. Not only is it your responsibility to warn of any dangers, but you should also inspect for hazards and repair them before a business invitee arrives. This is particularly true if you have no reason to believe that the invitee will discover the dangerous situation on their own or take the steps to protect themselves. Additionally, repairs to the hazard must meet a reasonable standard. An attempt to nail down a step may prove inadequate if not done correctly and completely.

A trespasser enters your property for a reason that does not benefit you or other members of your household. Under Nevada law, you owe no increased duty of care to a trespasser. This means that you have no duty to warn of dangers or fix them; however, you cannot take steps meant to injure any potential trespassers to your property.

If a visitor becomes injured while in your home, you may face legal liability if you failed to meet the proper duty of care. On the other hand, if you sustained an injury at the home of another, you may have a claim for compensation. Don’t hesitate to contact an experienced attorney for a comprehensive evaluation of your case and to learn more about your options.

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