Summer is in full swing and so is the season for backyard BBQs and swim parties. Inviting people over to have a good time outdoors is part of what makes the summer season so wonderful. But, do you know that in some instances you can be responsible for a person’s injuries if it occurs in your backyard?
In order to protect yourself from a lawsuit, we have put together this article to inform home owners about the potential risks they are taking when they invite people over. To be clear, we are not advocating the end of summer parties. We only want people to be safe, and, if an accident occurs, we want home owners to be protected. So, here is your chance to learn the answer to the question “Am I responsible for injuries in my backyard?”
When You Might be Responsible for Backyard Injuries
There are certain instances when you could be held responsible for injuries that occur in your backyard. Many of these instances occur when that person is invited (as opposed to a trespasser). A person that is invited onto a person’s property, either expressly or implicitly, is considered a “licensee.”
In legal terms, a licensee is someone to whom you, as the homeowner, owe a duty of reasonable care to make sure that they are not injured while on your property. In plain English, a licensee is someone whom you owe a responsibility to while they are on your property. To adequately protect yourself, you’ll need to make sure that there are no dangerous conditions on your property that you know of or that you should know of.
When someone enters your property as a guest, you will need to make sure that your property is safe from conditions that could cause someone to become injured. If there are conditions that are unsafe in your home, you should give your guests proper warning. Meaning, point out the potentially dangerous condition.
When You Are Not Responsible for Backyard Injuries
As mentioned before, if someone is trespassing on your property and they were not invited, you do not owe them the same standard as you do to someone you invited. If someone is trespassing on your property, you still owe a duty of care to them, but that duty is different than for a licensee—a distinction made in a very recent change to Nevada law. It creates additional protections for homeowners, lessors, and occupiers against trespassers.
Additionally, if the dangerous condition is “open and obvious,” or if your guest is more at fault for their injuries than you are, you will not be liable.
Important Tips to Help Protect Yourself
No, the first tip is not to cancel all of your summer plans and become a recluse. However, there are many things you can do to make sure that all of your summer parties go off without a hitch. Here are some of our ideas:
Accident Proof Your Property – Not only is keeping your property safe a good idea for those who live on your property but it is a vital step to make sure that all of your guests are safe. If you see an area inside or outside your home that could potentially hurt someone, you should either fix it or block it off so that no one can be injured. Make sure there is plenty of light if you are having a nighttime party and put away any objects that could pose harm to someone.
Get Insurance – Homeowners insurance is a great way to protect yourself from seemingly unpredictable accidents that could happen on your property. Check with your insurance agent to make sure you have enough coverage. It typically will not cost you much more to add additional coverage to your existing policy.
Go Easy on the Alcohol – Make sure that your party does not turn into a frat house kegger. If you see that alcohol consumption is getting out of hand while they are on your property, you should make sure to keep a close eye on things. If someone is drunk while at your party, they will be more likely to be injured and will not be able to easily avoid getting hurt on common household obstacles.
If You Need More Help
If you need to speak with an Las Vegas personal injury attorney regarding an injury that you incurred on someone’s property, or someone was injured on your property, we can help you. Please call us at 702-912-4451 or click here to schedule a meeting time. We look forward to helping you.
Matt Pfau is an attorney and founding partner at the law firm Parry & Pfau. Matt has a background in business consulting, estate planning, business start-ups and bankruptcy and is licensed to practice in both Nevada and California. A partner in the firm Parry & Pfau, he can be reached at 702-912-4451 or firstname.lastname@example.org.