All property owners are tasked with premises liability. This liability holds property owners responsible for any accidents or injuries that occur on their property. Premises liability laws require that all property owners ensure the safety of every person who enters their property.
Additionally, premises liability laws also require that property owners take all reasonable measures in order to accomplish this. Homeowners are responsible for their visitors’ safety while in their home, and on their property.
In addition to premises liability from injuries that occurred while on the homeowner’s property, homeowner liability can extend to a wide variety of other legal issues. Some examples of these legal issues may include:
- Zoning code violations, which essentially occur due to the improper use of land or a building. Zoning ordinances or laws specify what types of activities can take place in a certain zone of land. Zoning ordinances are governed by state, city, and municipal codes;
- Homeowner’s association conflicts, such as failing to hold all residents to the same restrictions or rules;
- Injuries resulting from alcohol consumption on the property;
- Swimming pool accidents, such as drowning, slip and falls, diving board injuries, etc.;
- Rental disputes and conflicts; or
- Issues with home business operating, such as zoning code violations, maintaining a polluting business, disturbing the neighbors, etc.
As with most property owning matters, state laws regarding homeowner liability will vary from state to state. In general, if a visitor is harmed in any way while in your home or on your property, you may be held liable. It is important to check the laws in your own jurisdiction, and possibly consult with a real estate attorney in your area, to ensure you are informed of your rights and responsibilities as a homeowner.
What Is Homeowners Insurance, and How Much Coverage Should I Carry?
Homeowners insurance is what helps protect a person’s home, themselves, and their belongings from damages. Homeowners insurance also protects the property owner from potential liability. All banks require some form of homeowners insurance before financing a mortgage. As such, although homeowners insurance is not legally required as a property owner, it is necessary to obtain for any person who is not able to purchase a house with one payment.
There are two main types of homeowners insurance. The first type offers casualty protection, in which the house itself is protected. As noted above, insurance sometimes also protects the property inside, such as the homeowner’s personal belongings. The second type offers liability protection, which protects the policyholder from liability should someone be injured on the property.
In addition to these two main types of protection, there are six other standard policies that cover various other conditions, such as renter’s insurance, mobile home protection, and specific types of perils or damage. For example, flood or volcano insurance are additional types of homeowners insurance.
Most homeowners insurance policies provide a minimum of $100,000 of liability coverage. However, the most common recommendation is that homeowners purchase at least $300,00 to $500,000 worth of liability coverage. A $100,000 policy may sound like quite a bit of money, but in the event of a costly liability lawsuit, it may not actually be enough. It is imperative that property owners assess their own situation and assets when considering which homeowners policy may best fit their needs.
An example of this would be those who own extensive property, including any additions to their home and any personal property. These property owners will want to consider having more insurance coverage on their homes. Although this will result in a higher premium, it can save the property owner later on, should they ever need their coverage to apply.
When Does Homeowners Insurance Coverage Begin?
In general, policyholders are fully covered by homeowners insurance the moment the coverage has been paid for. As such, if an accident occurs on the property and someone is injured, the policyholder’s homeowners insurance will be effective. Should the injured party sue the property owner for damages, and the property owner’s insurance applies, it will generally cover the costs and damages associated with that lawsuit.
However, a policy will only pay an injured party up to the limits of the policyholder’s coverage. This means that the homeowner could be on the hook for any amounts of damages awarded that exceed their policy. In such a situation, it may be possible that the policy has an umbrella provision that provides extra protection. Umbrella insurance is a type of liability insurance which covers incidents or issues that are not typically covered by standard types of insurance policies. This type of extra coverage is sometimes referred to as personal umbrella insurance. Personal umbrella insurance extends beyond the normal scope of standard homeowners insurance.
Policies also will not cover intentional or deliberate harm inflicted on another person. Physically attacking someone on your property will not be protected by your insurance policy, should the victim decide to sue you for their injuries. This is also true for any serious damages due to out of control parties, pranks that went too far, etc.
Do I Need an Attorney to Assist with Homeowner Liability?
If your homeowners insurance policy refuses to cover a situation that falls within the parameters of your coverage, you should consult with a skilled and knowledgeable personal injury attorney.
An experienced property law attorney can inform you of your particular state’s laws and regulations, as well as your own rights and responsibilities. Additionally, they will provide you with legal representation should a personal injury lawsuit arise.