An owner or an occupier (tenant) of property can be held responsible in a premises liability case. Who will be held liable boils down to who was in control — or should have been in control — of the part of the property where the injury occurred.  Most homeowners have insurance for their premises, but many renters are not aware that they should get “renter’s insurance,” to protect them. Renter’s insurance is usually not expensive, and brings peace of mind. Even with the best of intentions, accidents can happen, but the tips below can help you avoid some of the most common types of premises liability lawsuits.

Slip, Trips, and Falls

If a visitor trips on the step of the porch or slips on an oily floor while at someone else’s home or business, and is badly hurt, they could come back on the homeowner for medical reimbursement. They could also file a lawsuit.  Therefore, it is always important that a homeowner makes every area of their home or business as safe as possible. Handrails are “a must” for all interior and exterior steps, especially those with three or more risers. Outside porches and patios should have guard rails. Railings and steps should be made of strong material and checked often, with repairs and updates made as is necessary.  Spills should promptly be cleaned.

Large cracks in sidewalks, on a person’s property, should be filled and/or marked with brightly colored paint. Yards should be level and even, with holes filled and broken tree limbs or sticks removed so no one is at risk of tripping or falling.  Taking these precautions is well worth the effort.

Pets

You are responsible for the actions of your pets.  If your pet bites or scratches a person, resulting in the need to seek medical attention, there’s likely going to be a lawsuit. There are many ways for a pet owner to be proactive in safeguarding their general liability for owning a dog, cat, or other type of pet.

Installing a fence around one’s yard in order to keep animals secured in a specific area is a good idea. A fence will provide a boundary for the animal and also establish a property line for neighbors passing by while out for a walk or bicycle ride.

Dogs should be kept on leashes whenever they are on a walk or visiting a park or playground. It is also smart to make sure pets are up to date on all of their vaccines and shots. A homeowner can greatly benefit from having their pets attend obedience classes.

If you have any questions, feel free to call Wittenstein & Wittenstein 718-261-8114