Are You Liable If One Person Harms Another On Your Property?
It's fairly common knowledge that if someone hurts his or herself on your property, you could be held liable for the person's injuries. What you may not know is that if a third-party injures someone on your property, you could also be held liable for the incident. Here's what you need to know about third-party premise liability.
When Liability Can Be Pinned on You
Except for situations where you are legally in charge of another person (e.g. children), you generally are not responsible for protecting someone from harm done by a third party. So if a third party hurts someone in your home or store, you could not be held liable for that person's actions. For instance, a driver hits someone standing in the driveway of your home. You wouldn't be liable because the accident was caused by the driver, not your driveway.
However, there are a couple of times when you could be made to compensate someone injured by another person on your premises. The first is if something on or the state of your premises caused or contributed to the person's injuries. In the case of Peralta v. Henriquez, the plaintiff injured herself when she ran into a vehicle's bent antenna. She sued stating the defendant—who owned the lot—was at least partially liable for the incident because the area where it happened was inadequately lit. The court agreed and found in favor of the plaintiff.
The other time when you could get caught up in third-party premise liability is if you are aware that a third-party may commit an injurious act on another person or could've at least reasonably foreseen the injury occurring and did nothing to prevent it. People who have pools on their property may fall victim to this, for example. It's reasonable to expect roughhousing by kids and teens playing in the pool. If one teen violently pushes another in the pool and the victim is injured as a result, you could be held partially responsible if you didn't admonish the teen previously or try to stop the roughhousing.
Getting Help with the Case
Even if you don't think someone could or would come after you for compensation for an injury caused by a third-party on your property, you should consult with an attorney about the incident. At minimum, you should write up a report detailing what happened and file it away in your records. Depending on the state, a person has 1 to 6 years to file a personal injury case against another party. Although the person may say he or she is fine when the accident occurs, the individual may change his or her mind at a later date, and you want to be prepared for this eventuality.
For more information about third-party premise liability help or assistance with an ongoing case, contact an attorney in your area.