Who Is Responsible If Someone Gets Hurt On Your Property?

Sarah Edwards


Reviewed By Adam Ramirez, J.D.


Read in 4 mins

In 2021, over 17,500 deaths and 52.5 million non-fatal injuries happened in homes, yards, and neighborhoods. These numbers are shockingly high since they exclude all work injuries and motor vehicle accidents.

So who is responsible if someone gets hurt on your property? The answer to this question is deceptively difficult and depends on many factors.

Factors That Determine Liability for On-Premises Injuries

Premises liability is a complex area of law that blends injury and property law principles. Factors that could determine liability include:

How the Injury Happened

How the injury occurred is one of the most important factors. The people responsible for property do not need to guarantee the safety of guests and other visitors. Instead, they only need to exercise reasonable care in addressing any hazardous conditions on the premises. This legal duty requires the responsible party to:

  • Inspect their property for hazards
  • Post warnings about dangers in a reasonable time and manner
  • Act with reasonable promptness to repair hazards

You only owe this legal duty to “invitees.” This includes guests, customers, and people with legal permission to enter your property, like mail carriers, delivery drivers, and utility workers. You do not owe this duty of care to trespassers.

These rules mean that the liability for the same accident and injury might vary, depending on the circumstances. Suppose that a guest slips and falls on a puddle inside your entry door. If you knew about the puddle and failed to mop it, you may be liable. On the other hand, you might not be liable if the wet spot resulted from overnight condensation and you had not had time to inspect the property before the accident.

The Nature of the Property

When someone gets injured on commercial property, the business or its landlord will be liable. However, the business owners generally will not be liable. Conversely, when injuries happen on an individual’s property, the owner will probably be liable.

Injury Location on the Property

Liability will depend on who was responsible for maintaining the property. If only a property owner is involved, they will be liable for any injury-related losses. Thus, you will probably be liable if you own your home and your broken patio handrail injures someone.

However, many properties involve complex relationships between owners, tenants, and property managers. Each will generally be liable for the areas under their control.

Owners will be liable for hazards only they can fix or approve for repair, like structural defects. Property managers will be liable for areas under their control, such as pools, exterior staircases, and other common areas. Tenants will be liable for injuries inside their leased space.

Thus, suppose your friend is injured while visiting your leased apartment. If they fell in a pothole in the parking lot due to negligent maintenance, the owner or property manager will likely bear the liability for their losses. But you will be liable if your friend slips in your bathroom due to your negligence.

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How Does Homeowners Insurance Work if Someone Gets Hurt on Your Property?

Once you determine who is responsible if someone gets hurt on your property, you must identify who will pay for those injuries. Liability insurance is a contract between a policyholder and an insurer. When the policyholder incurs a covered liability, the insurer pays the resulting losses up to the policy limits.

When you have homeowner’s insurance, you also get liability insurance. This liability insurance covers any personal liability you might incur within the policy’s scope.

Home Insurance Claims

You will tender the claim to your insurer if someone suffers an injury while on your property and alleges that you acted negligently. A claims adjuster will investigate the accident and determine whether to pay the claim.

If the insurer accepts the claim, the insurer will pay for the injured person’s losses up to your policy limits. You will be responsible for any losses above the limits. For example, suppose that you have $50,000 in liability coverage. When the insurer accepts a claim for $60,000 in losses, the insurer pays $50,000, and you are liable for the remaining $10,000.

The insurer can also deny the claim. Some reasons for claim denials include:

  • The accident did not cause the injury
  • Your negligence did not cause the accident
  • The injured person’s claims were not reasonable

The insurer can also deny or reduce a claim if the victim contributed to their injuries. For example, the insurer will deny a claim if the victim broke their neck diving into your pool despite signs and verbal warnings not to dive.

Learn More About Premises Liability Claims

Premises liability claims present difficult legal and factual issues. ConsumerShield provides educational resources to help you understand your legal risk after someone gets injured on your property. We also connect you with a lawyer to guide you through this complex field of law. Fill out our contact form for a free case evaluation to learn how we can help you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Maybe. If you acted negligently, you will be liable for their medical bills, lost wages, and other financial costs. You may also be liable for their non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering. If you acted reasonably, you will not be liable.

  • You have the same legal duty of care toward children as adults. However, the reasonableness of your actions will be judged differently. Children have a lower ability to comprehend danger and understand warnings. When children are on your property, you must take extra care to make your property safe.

  • Some common accident scenarios include:

    • Falls
    • Drowning
    • Carbon monoxide poisoning
    • Fires
    • Falling objects

    You will not necessarily be liable for all injuries arising from these types of accidents. But you may be liable if your negligence causes them.

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