PREVENTING PREMISES LIABILITY: HOW CAN I KEEP MY HOME SAFE THIS SUMMER?

Huffman & Huffman Brothers-in-Law, P.L.L.C.
3 mins READ
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Summer is finally here, and with the warm weather comes some much-anticipated rest and relaxation. Families across Virginia prep their homes for a season of barbeques, pool parties, and Fourth of July celebrations.

But even in the carefree world of summer vacations, no one is immune to injuries. Accidents can still happen, especially when homeowners let their guards down.

Whether you own a home or plan on partaking in activities with friends and family this summer, it’s important to understand what risk factors are present during the summer and how you can ensure that you, your family, and your visitors stay safe.

PROPERTY OWNER RESPONSIBILITIES

Before discussing common summer accidents, we want to make sure that you understand premises liability and what this means for property owners.

Each state has its own specifications regarding premises liability laws, but they all essentially say the same thing. Property owners, including those in Virginia, have a legal responsibility to ensure that their property is reasonably safe from hazards.

While the scope of this duty varies depending on certain facts and specifics of the situation, this generally includes the responsibility of property owners to:

  • Maintain the property
  • Consistently inspect their property for hazards
  • If potential hazards are found, take steps to repair or fix the issue in a timely manner
  • Give visitors and guests adequate warning of potential hazards

When property owners fail to uphold this legal responsibility, they may be held liable for a person’s injuries if they were caused because of a hazard on the property.

PREVENTING SUMMER ACCIDENTS IN YOUR HOME

As you can imagine, premises liability laws apply to homeowners as well. In fact, certain accidents occur more commonly on residential property, especially during the summer when there are more people in and out of others’ homes.

Below, we discuss some ways to prevent summer accidents in your home and ensure that your home stays injury-free for all who enter.

SLIP AND FALLS

Each year, about one million people make visits to the emergency room because of slip and fall accidents. Depending on the circumstances of the accident and severity of the fall, injuries sustained in these accidents range from bruising, sprains, or broken bones to concussions or even traumatic brain injuries.

Many slip and fall accidents are preventable. For homeowners, it’s important to maintain the safety of your property and be wary of potential causes of falls, including:

  • Uneven pavement
  • Loose floorboards
  • Poorly constructed staircases
  • Uncovered wires
  • Slippery floors

SWIMMING POOL ACCIDENTS

As the temperature goes up, children and adults gravitate to swimming pools to cool off. However, drownings and other pool accidents are a common cause of injury during the summer.

Every day, ten people die in accidental drowning accidents. Young children are especially at risk—about 20% of these incidents involve children 14 years of age or younger.

If there is a pool in the backyard, you can help prevent swimming accidents by taking a few extra precautions:

  • Have at least one sober adult supervising children at all times
  • Set up four-sided physical barriers that prevent toddlers and young children from crawling or falling into the pool while unsupervised
  • Teach children how to swim
  • Have at least one adult present who knows cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Don’t rely on lifejackets or other floatation devices for children that can’t properly swim; they should still be supervised at all times

DOG BITES

Dog bite injuries are common during summer when more visitors are entering the property. Dogs are much more likely to act territorial in their own homes. Other factors, like stress or agitation, can lead to a dangerous situation.

Property owners have a responsibility to restrain their dogs and warn visitors if the animal has a violent history or tendency. It’s important to monitor the animal, especially around new visitors who the dog may consider a threat, and act accordingly so the animal does not injure anyone.

FIRES AND BURNS

Whether you’re roasting marshmallows outside or lighting fireworks on Independence Day, it’s important to understand the risks of fires and burns for visitors or partygoers. During summer, certain factors increase the risk of burns, including:

  • Campfires
  • Fireworks
  • Grills and barbeques
  • Electrical equipment

Before having visitor overs, make sure to brush up on fire safety and learn some basic first aid techniques in the event that someone sustains mild burns. If the injuries are moderate to severe, the person should be taken to receive medical attention.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE INJURED AT A RESIDENCE

If you are injured at another person’s residence, you will most likely have to file an insurance claim through the property owner’s homeowners insurance coverage. But that doesn’t mean that the insurance company will immediately approve your claim or offer you enough compensation to cover your total damages.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our firm for legal guidance if you’re ever in this situation. You want an experienced legal advocate on your side who is going to put your best interests first and work hard to make sure the insurance company does the right thing and pays your claim.

At Huffman & Huffman, our firm is a family and treats our clients like family members, too. We have built our reputation on providing caring, effective, and results-driven legal counsel to each client, all while keeping them informed throughout the entire legal process.

Contact Huffman & Huffman at (757) 599-6050 to schedule your free case review.

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