Homeowner Insurance for Slip and Fall Accidents
UPDATED: June 19, 2018
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Although states have different laws, you are generally responsible for slip and fall injuries to anyone who comes onto your property, even, in some circumstances, trespassers. Premises liability law places a great responsibility on owners of homes to keep their property safe, so it is a good idea to make sure you have sufficient homeowner's insurance to protect yourself from legal judgments.
Homeowner Responsibility for Slip and Fall
Slip and fall responsibility for homeowners is determined in the same way as it is for any property owner: if the homeowner was responsible for the condition, knew about the condition, or should have known about the condition and had reasonable time to repair it then they will likely be liable for the injury. Typically, a homeowner is liable to any guest or visitor to their property (including solicitors), and should make an effort to ensure all areas where people are expected to travel are kept in safe condition.
Some states also hold homeowners liable for injuries to trespassers in certain circumstances. The most common instance when a homeowner would be liable for a slip and fall injury to a trespasser would be when there is something on the property that attracts children - such as a pool or a trampoline or a playground. Known as attractive nuisances, structures on a property that children would be attracted to create liability nightmares for homeowners. A homeowner with such a structure would need to take all measures to prevent children from accessing it, and still may be liable for any injuries that result from trespassing youngsters interested in play time.
TIP: Many towns and cities have laws which make a property owner responsible for the care and maintenance of public sidewalks in front of or next to their property. Under such laws, if there is a sidewalk next to your property, you must keep the side clear (such as removing garbage, ice and snow) and in good repair (you must fix cracks and holes in the sidewalk). If you fail to properly maintain the sidewalk, you can be held responsible for the damages suffered by a person who is injured on the sidewalk next to your property.
Homeowners Insurance and Slip and Fall Injuries
If you are sued for a slip and fall injury on your property, then you will likely rely on your homeowner's insurance provider to handle the case. Homeowner's insurance companies will likely investigate the accident, and ask you for:
- Photos of the area where the slip and fall occurred
- Facts about what happened and how the injured party fell
- Explanation of the condition of the area before the accident
- Who fell and why they were on your property
- What caused the condition
- Did you know about the condition
- When the condition existed / when you aware of its existence
- Who else was present and witness to the accident
You will need to be honest with your insurance adjuster and give an accurate recollection of what occurred and why it happened.
TIP: Keep in mind that all homeowner insurance policies have limits on how much the company will pay out for a slip and fall accident. In order to protect yourself from paying for slip and fall injuries out of pocket, consider purchasing a homeowners insurance policy that adequately covers all your possible liability exposure. If you have a pool or a large property that guests frequent, you may want to add to your insurance coverage to accommodate your increased risks.