What do I do If I get seriously hurt while visiting someone’s house?
When visiting someone else’s property, they have a general duty of care to protect you from certain types of harm. Because of this, any time an injury is caused by a hazard on a piece of property, there’s the potential that a property owner could be held liable for the resulting costs.
No one wants to feel like they are “going after” a person they know when they have been seriously hurt on their property. But the simple truth is that catastrophic injuries have major costs. These costs may include hospital bills, long-term rehabilitation, and months’ worth of lost wages. Filing a claim on the homeowner’s insurance policy of the property owner is not only the correct use of such a policy, it may also be the only way to financially recover after a serious accident caused by someone else’s negligence.
Whether or not a property owner is responsible for a particular hazard or injury is a fairly complicated aspect of the law. A Tampa premises liability lawyer can help you determine if a property owner’s negligence was the true cause of an accident, and they can then help you pursue the maximum amount of available damages.
Any time you have been hurt at a business, or while visiting someone’s house (including rental property), reach out to Darrigo & Diaz for experienced legal assistance. Call us today at (813) 774-3341 or contact us via our website to schedule a no-cost consultation.
What Is Premises Liability?
Like all accident cases, determining who pays for an accident injury comes down to question liability. Liability refers to who is at fault and why they are at fault. Like with any other accident, liability is decided by who’s responsible for the property in question and whether or not they maintained it in what would generally be considered a safe manner.
Florida’s “premises liability” laws say that the owner of the property (or, in some cases, the primary tenant, such as a renter or a business) is responsible for maintaining the safety of the property. Their responsibilities can include addressing hazards like slippery sidewalks, broken stair railings, or torn carpets that caused someone to trip. If the damaged property isn’t repaired, the owner or tenant must at very least clearly specify where dangers might be and make all efforts to keep visitors away. Simply putting a sign up that says “not responsible for any injuries” will not suffice. The warnings must be specific and unmistakable.
Any time a property owner fails in their duty to address hazards — or at least clearly warn about them — they may be held responsible for the consequences of that failure. In other words, they can be liable for the costs of injuries that happen on their premises as a result of their negligence.
Common examples of accidents that can occur from a failure to maintain a property include:
- Tripping on wires, chords, torn or uneven carpet or flooring, or due to inadequate lighting
- Slips, either in driveways, at poolside, bathrooms, etc.
- Falling downstairs, due to damages to the stairs themselves, hand railings, carpet or flooring, etc.
- Injuries caused by outside entertainment such as playground equipment or trampolines
- Injuries caused by pets such as dog bites, cat scratches, birds clawing, etc.
More generally speaking, property owners have a responsibility to exercise reasonable care in order to prevent an accident that is likely to happen, AKA an accident that is “foreseeable”. Even allowing a guest to consume too much alcohol could result in liability, in some cases. Guests are responsible for their own health and safety, up to an extent, but they are never going to be considered at fault for an injury that occurs because of a hazard they weren’t aware of or that was completely outside of their control.
What Do I Do After an Injury on Someone’s Property?
Should you be injured while visiting someone else’s property, you might be entitled to compensation. If the injury was caused by the property owner’s failure to prevent a situation like those listed in the section above, your first step is to explore a legal claim against the homeowner’s insurance policy.
Filing a homeowner’s claim can be difficult to do on your own. Unlike in car accident situations, people aren’t used to giving out their policy number after someone is hurt on their property. They may instantly begin trying to mount a legal defense against liability the moment their homeowner’s policy information is requested. Because of this, it is almost always prudent to protect your own legal interests by contacting an experienced premises liability lawyer in your area.
In the immediate aftermath of the accident, you can also protect your ability to claim compensation through the following steps:
Document the Scene
Like with an automobile accident, you’ll do yourself a huge favor by documenting everything you can about the scene of an injury. This information can help reconstruct the injury scenario and answer questions like: What potential dangers are nearby? What condition is the property in, particularly the scene of the accident?
Most of us have smartphones that can take pictures, make videos, and record audio. Gather as much info as you can with them and get statements from other guests. If you can’t do it, have someone else do it for you.
Do Not Wait On Any Medical Treatment
Always go to receive medical care any time you are hurt on someone else’s property, even if it seems like it could be minor. If you are in significant pain, contact emergency personnel and follow their instructions. If that means a trip to the emergency room, don’t delay.
Regardless, see your medical practitioner as soon as possible after the accident. Injuries may take up to even a month to show any outward symptoms. Getting documentation soon after your accident not only confirms any injuries but having the documentation will also be of immense value should you have to file a claim or go to court. It’s important to remember that the longer you go before seeking medical care, the harder it will be to prove your injury was caused on the plaintiff’s property.
Get Insurance Information From the Owner
Like most of the country, Florida does not require homeowners to have housing insurance. However, it’s generally considered a smart investment for property owners, regardless of the use or age of the property. In many cases, a mortgage lender will insist on insurance for a property until the mortgage is paid in full. Regardless, it’s a good idea to have homeowner’s insurance, and most home insurance packages have sufficient levels of protection for guests injured on the property.
Call a Tampa Attorney Team to Help You
While no one wants to have to use legal means to get due compensation from a friend or a family member, the fact is that’s what homeowner’s insurance is there for. Further, property owners, and in many cases primary tenants, have a responsibility to ensure guests’ safety to a reasonable degree. Guests who are hurt because of a lapse of safety or maintenance should not have to bear the costs of their own injuries, in turn.
With this in mind, maybe the most important thing you can do when you’ve had an accident in someone else’s home is to call the firm of Darrigo & Diaz. You can then talk to one of our experienced, qualified attorneys about how your case to seek compensation might proceed. It’s beneficial to have someone experienced in this on your side. Our lawyers have over 20 years of experience serving clients in the Tampa area and stand by our record of satisfying clients.
Speak to an attorney experienced with cases like yours with no risk today by scheduling a free initial consultation. Call us at (813) 774-3341 or contact us via our website today.