Lesson 8: The Games People Play

From The Business of Life section of How You Can Avoid Legal Land Mines by Joseph S. Lyles (2003)

If you have any friends or relatives, they will come to your residence sooner or later, or if you have children then undoubtedly their friends will come over to play. Statistically, you can be certain that at some point someone will be injured at your home. Many people have suffered injuries at the homes of others while engaged in a variety of activities, including swimming, partying, slipping and falling, riding motorized vehicles and playing.

Can guests sue you if they are injured while located at your home? Yes. Will they sue you? Maybe. Will they win? Maybe. Many factors will come into play, such as how badly they were hurt and how they were injured. Other factors include whether you were negligent in failing to warn them of the condition that caused the injury and whether there is healthcare insurance that will cover their bills.

The best way to protect yourself from having to pay a large amount of damages for someone else’s injury on your property is to be well-insured. You should have liability coverage with your homeowners coverage of at least one hundred thousand dollars, but more if you can procure it. You should also consider having umbrella coverage, which is coverage that applies once your liability limits have been paid out.

Probably the single most important insurance coverage to have is the no-fault type of coverage, which pays medical bills for anyone injured on your property, no matter the cause. It is often called Medical Payments Coverage or Personal Injury Protection Coverage. This no-fault type of coverage is very valuable because it pays medical bills, which are usually the main component of damage claims. Someone could still pursue a judgment for pain and suffering, permanent impairment, or punitive damages even if their medical bills are paid, but he or she will be less likely to do so if those bills have been taken care of by your insurance.

In addition to being well-insured, you should be safety-conscious whenever you have visitors. If you have a dangerous situation on your property, you should post “No Trespassing” and “Danger” signs around it. Take photos to show that you placed such warning signs. Likewise, put up a fence around your swimming pool for safety’s sake.

Finally, if someone is injured, be very attentive and offer your concern and sympathy. Treat them as you would like to be treated.

The Lesson: Warn visitors of any hazards on your property and make sure your insurance policy will cover a visitor’s injury.