As your trusted, Kansas City Personal Injury Attorneys, Kendall Law Group recognizes that June is National Safety Month, the perfect time to provide Kansas City homeowners with crucial information to help keep visitors safe and avoid exposure to costly, premises liability lawsuits.
What Constitutes Homeowner Negligence in Missouri and Kansas?
In both Missouri and Kansas, homeowner negligence falls under the umbrella of premises liability law which dictates that homeowners have a responsibility to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition to prevent injuries. This responsibility extends to invitees, licensees and under some circumstances, trespassers. Invitees are individuals you invite to your home, licensees are those who are invited to your property for social purposes, such as a child’s birthday celebration.
Under Missouri law , the attractive nuisance doctrine may apply if a trespasser is a child. This doctrine provides that a homeowner may be held liable if a child is injured by a hazardous object or condition that is likely to attract children who are unable to appreciate the safety risk posed, such as an accessible backyard swimming pool. Additionally, if a trespasser is discovered, you as a homeowner owe a duty to exercise ordinary care to warn trespassers of hazards that may result in death or serious bodily harm.
Kansas law is similar in relation to child trespassers and the attractive nuisance doctrine. For adult trespassers, the homeowner must refrain from willful, wanton or reckless conduct that is likely to result in injuries.
It is important to note, that in both Kansas and Missouri, homeowners may be held liable for injuries to trespassers if the homeowner is aware that trespassers frequently intrude upon their property and if the homeowner fails to post adequate warnings about dangerous conditions that are not openly obvious.
In order for homeowner negligence to be present, the following four elements must occur:
- Duty: The homeowner had a duty to maintain the property in a safe condition.
- Breach: the homeowner breached this duty by failing to maintain a safe condition.
- Causation: The breach of duty directly caused an injury.
- Damages: The injured person suffered compensable damage such as medical expenses, lost wages or pain in suffering due to the injury.
Understanding Premises Liability
As a homeowner in Kansas City, you could be held legally responsible if someone gets hurt on your property. Potential legal ramifications can include financial responsibility for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and in some cases, punitive damages. Serious injuries or fatalities can result in lawsuits demanding compensation reaching high amounts such as hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions.
The Importance of Homeowner’s Insurance
When it comes to injuries occurring on your property, homeowner’s insurance is your best line of defense and is designed to cover the costs of premises liability claims and protect your personal assets. Homeowner’s insurance is not legally mandated in Missouri or Kansas, but it is highly important for liability protection and is required by most mortgage lenders.
Homeowner insurance coverage varies, but standard policies typically include at least $100,000.00 in liability coverage. However, considering the potential magnitude of premises liability claims, it may be wise to carry more than the minimum coverage limits. Many insurance advisors recommend a minimum of $300,000.00 to $500,000.00 in liability coverage.
Some of the top-rated insurance companies providing homeowners insurance in Missouri and Kansas include State Farm, Allstate and American Family Insurance. When making decisions about your homeowner’s insurance, it’s imperative to compare policy options and choose the one best suited for your needs.
Understanding Summertime Outdoor Hazards and Homeowner Liability
When it comes to the risk of premises liability lawsuits, homeowner liabilities are not limited to indoor hazards. Popular summertime outdoor hazards associated with swimming pools, treehouses, trampolines and even landscaping can leave a homeowner open to potential accidents and subsequent lawsuits. For example, if you have a backyard swimming pool without a proper safety fence and a neighborhood child wanders into your yard and is injured, or drowns, you may have a wrongful death or catastrophic injury claim on your hands.
Mitigating Homeowner Risks Posed by Outdoor Hazards
As a homeowner, preventing injuries before they happen is key to avoiding potential legal headaches. In an effort to mitigate your exposure, we recommend the following:
- Swimming Pools: Install a safety fence around your pool to prevent unauthorized entry, especially by children.
- Trampolines and Treehouses: Ensure these outdoor toys are in good working condition and safe for use. Limit use to when times when an adult is available to supervise and consider additional safety features such as netting for trampolines. Make your backyard inaccessible any time you are away from your home.
- Landscaping: Regularly trim overgrown bushes and trees and mark any deep holes on your property.
Injured Due to Homeowner Negligence?
If you or your loved one has suffered a serious injury or died due to the negligence of a Kansas City homeowner, Kendall Law Group is here to help you put your life back together. For more information on premises liability, visit our premises liability practice page For a free consultation, contact us today at (816) 531-3100.