If you have been injured while visiting at a friend’s house, you have a very difficult decision to make. What course of action should you take? Most people typically do not want to file a lawsuit against a friend. But, on the other hand, if you aren’t able to cover your medical bills on your own, you will have to decide what action to take, if injured at the home of a friend.
How do I know if my friend is actually responsible?
The extent of a property owner’s liability, for injuries that occur on their property, depends on the status of the person who is injured. In other words, the reason you were at your friend’s home when you were injured, determines liability. The term “licensee” refers to someone who has permission from the property owner to be on the property.
A licensee is different from an “invitee” (who also has permission) because of the purpose for being on the property. An invitee is on the premises for the owner’s benefit, such as a store customer. Whereas, a licensee is there for his or own amusement. The best example, is a party guest or a family friend. So, most likely, if you are at a friend’s house, you are there for your own amusement (i.e.., visiting or socializing).
What could make my friend liable for my injuries?
As a homeowner, your friend would be responsible for an injury caused by a dangerous condition on the premises, if he or she knew about the condition, and knew it posed an unreasonable risk of injury, but did not take reasonable care to either eliminate the danger or warn you about it. Liability also depends on you being unaware of the dangerous condition before you are injured.
Are there exceptions to their liability?
Actually, yes. As a licensee can lose the licensee status and become a trespasser, if the licensee goes beyond the set boundaries established by the property owner. For example, you are visiting your friend for a party in the living room of the home, and the basement door is shut. Your friend tells all visitors that the basement is off limits. If you decide to go to the basement, and get injured walking down the stairs, your friend is most likely not responsible for the resulting injuries.
How do I recover for my injuries?
The best way to handle this delicate situation, is to file a personal injury claim against your friend’s homeowner’s insurance, as opposed to naming your friend in the lawsuit. Otherwise, you will be responsible for your own medical expenses incurred as a result of your injuries, which can be very expensive if your injury is serious. Although you are not filing a claim against your friend directly, you may want to discuss with him or her your plans to pursue a claim against their insurance carrier.
Premises liability claims, resulting from negligence of a safety hazard, are generally covered by homeowner’s insurance. This type of claim typically does not affect the homeowner’s financial situation much, as their insurance policy should pay, and their personal assets should not be at issue.
If you have questions regarding premises liability, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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