It can happen: You are visiting a friend or a relative and you take a nasty fall and hurt yourself. The question of liability arises and you, as the injured party, wonder if you can recover the costs associated with your injuries from the homeowner or renter. You may be hesitant to file a claim for fear of financially hurting your friend or affecting your friendship. The reality is that unless you file a claim, you may be left covering your own expenses such as medical bills, lost wages and future losses related to the accident. It is important to remember that you are not going after the homeowner; you are pursuing their insurance company as they are responsible for handling and paying out the claim. Beyond the possibility of the homeowner’s insurance premiums increasing, there should be very little in terms of financial consequences for them.
Below are the general questions that I get when someone injures himself or herself as a guest at somebody’s home.
Q. I was at a friend’s house and fell down the stairs and broke my hip. What should I do?
A. The first thing, following a fall in someone’s home is to seek medical attention. Not only will seeking immediate medical care increase your chances of a full recovery, but it will also document your injuries. A medical record can later be used to prove the extent of the injuries you have suffered and it will help give credibility to your claim should a dispute arise.
Q. How do I discuss my situation and medical expenses with my host?
A. It is important to discuss your situation with your host. An understanding individual will recognize the extent of your injuries and the many pending medical bills you will face. Explaining that your claim is against his or her insurance policy and not against them personally will help relieve tension and open the door for a reasonable discussion.
Q: I fell inside of a house where I was a guest and broke my leg. Can I recover the costs associated with the injuries including time off of work?
A: The recovery depends upon who is negligent for the causing injury. What caused your fall? Was it the result of the homeowner’s negligence (broken steps, no banister on the stairs, unlit stairway, ice on the porch or walkway) or were you doing something inappropriate and potentially harmful to yourself?
Q: How do I know if the owner of the property was negligent?
A: There are a number of factors, which dictate whether a homeowner was negligent, or not. A property owner has a duty to maintain his/her property in a reasonably safe condition to ensure others are protected from dangers or defects that could cause injury. If a homeowner fails to do something such as repair a broken step in a staircase and someone falls through the step, the property owner may be liable for that person’s injury. Another good indicator that the owner was negligent would be a code violation on the premise, which could be as simple as a missing staircase banister or unlit entryway. Generally, did the homeowner fail to keep their property safe.
Q: If I am visiting someone who is a renter, and am hurt, can I recover the costs associated with the injuries including time off of work?
A: It depends upon who on is responsible for maintaining the premises, If the owner of the property is responsible for maintaining the premises then chances are they have the insurance associated with someone becoming injured on their property. Potentially both the renter and the landlord could be responsible.
It will certainly be in your best interest to speak with a skilled Illinois injury attorney that is well versed in premises liability law. It is not always easy to prove that the injuries suffered were a direct result of a dangerous condition on someone’s property. An experienced personal injury attorney will help determine liability and help you better understand your legal rights and options.