As a lawyer who has represented clients for more than 20 years, I have often been asked “Am I responsible if someone gets hurt at my house?” Conversely, sometimes I am asked “I was hurt at a friend’s house — what should I do?”
Both of these questions involve what is known as premises liability law. So long as a person is on your property with your permission (called an invitee), the owner of the property must exercise “ordinary care” to keep the property safe. This is the wording of the applicable statute: “Where an owner or occupier of land, by express or implied invitation, induces or leads others to come upon his premises for any lawful purpose, he is liable in damages to such persons for injuries caused by his failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe.” O.C.G.A. Sec. 51-3-1.
Ok, fine, but what does any of that mean?
In short, if you invite friends into your home and you know about a dangerous condition, you have the legal duty to either correct the dangerous condition or warn about it. For example, if you have a rug at the top of the stairs that has a tendency to slip, you should put a sticky pad beneath it. If a guest in your home slips when the rug comes out from under their feet because of no sticky pad and falls down your stairs, you may be responsible for the injured person for their medical bills, lost wages and other types of damages.
On the other hand, if a guest in your home trips over their own feet and falls down your stairs, you are likely not responsible for that person’s injuries or damages.
Most homeowner polices provide liability coverage in favor of the homeowner in case the homeowner is negligent, and most polices also provide a type of coverage called medical payments coverage, or med pay, which pays medical bills up to the policy limit.
If you have a situation of a guest being injured in your home, you should report the situation to your homeowner’s insurance.
If you have been injured in someone’s home, or business, and feel that the homeowner or business is responsible for your injuries, I will be happy to provide a free initial consultation. Please call 770-414-5394.