If someone is injured on your property, you can be sued and found liable, even if the person was not an invited guest. Many homeowners are under the misconception that their homeowners’ insurance policy will take care of any such injuries. The problem is that a vast number of homeowners don’t carry enough liability insurance to cover legal, medical, and pain and suffering fees that might be awarded. According to liability lawyers, homeowners lose 67% of personal injury cases, and the average award is $78,000. One accident could wipe you out financially.
To avoid such devastating consequences, safety check your home and yard for possible dangers. The top 5 areas that need special attention:
Dogs: Dog bites are the number one reason homeowners are sued. If you have a dog, make sure it’s secured in a strong fence. If it’s an inside pet, close it up in a back room when you have guests. Fido might be the most loving dog in the world with your friends and family, but many dogs are territorial by nature and often view strangers on “their” property as a threat. No dog is 100% safe.
Swimming pools: Injuries and drownings in pools are another top reason for lawsuits. Your pool should have a fence around it, and the gate should be locked when the pool is not in use. Even pools that have not been completed present a danger. A child could easily fall into it and suffer major injury or death. If a fence cannot be put up before your pool’s completion, it should be marked with bright yellow hazard tape.
Stairs and steps: Both outdoor and indoor staircases and steps are the sites for many accidents. Make sure yours are sturdy, with a secure hand railing. Don’t leave toys and other clutter on the steps that could cause tripping.
Outdoor play areas: Swing sets and trampolines present a special problem. They’re magnets for kids in your neighborhood, whether the children have been invited or not. By having the play areas in a fence with a locking gate, you can stop the uninvited guests. Also, check the structures for protruding bolts and screws. Have a soft material under swing sets to reduce the impact of falls. Be sure to keep the outdoor toys in proper working order, too. Trampolines should be complete with protective mats over the springs and a net enclosure to prohibit falls. When you have kids over to play, it’s best to have adult supervision at all times.
Slip and fall accidents: This is another major area of lawsuits. Of course, practically anyone could trip and fall anywhere in your home or yard, but there are ways to significantly reduce this threat. Tile floors are the major culprit; when they get damp, they become extremely slick. Keep the floors dry, and place non-slip rugs or mats at entryways and in bathrooms. Keep clutter away from doorways and “pathways” though rooms, especially when you have visitors.