Having someone sustain an injury on your property is often a scary and stressful experience, more so if the injury is severe. That said, knowing what to do in case something like this happens can help make the experience less taxing, as well as minimize the possible losses that you might incur.
If someone (a guest, a customer, or a trespasser) is injured on your property, you may be sued for personal injury. The law states that a property owner must maintain their property to maintain the safety of those entering–yes, even if they are unwelcome–and failure to do so can make them liable for injuries sustained due to negligence.
While you may have complied with the premises liability laws in your area, the risk of someone getting injured on your property is never zero. So, even if it is very unlikely for someone to get seriously hurt on your property, it’s imperative that you must know what to do in case it does happen:
Tend to the injured person
Unless it is a trespasser who intends to cause you or your property harm, the first step you should take is tend to the injured person. Assess the injury to determine if you need to call an ambulance (if they are unconscious or severely injured, call emergency services right away). Otherwise, give them first aid and drive them to the hospital, if necessary. If they have sustained a significant blow to the head but are still conscious, it’s best to take them to the ER to check for head and spine injuries.
But what if it’s a trespasser that gets injured on your property? In this case, it’s better to call the authorities than risk attending to the person yourself. They may intend to hurt you or accidentally do so in fear of getting caught.
Document the scene
After the injured person has been tended to, the next step is to document the scene where the injury occurred. Take pictures of the surroundings, including the item or obstacle that caused the injury (e.g. a fallen branch or an uneven step). Gather written witness accounts if other people witnessed the accident take place. If the object that caused the injury poses immediate harm to others, it’s best to remove it from the scene so it won’t injure someone else.
Contact a lawyer
If you don’t have a lawyer yet, it’s best to start looking for one now, even if the person injured has not expressed intention to file a lawsuit yet. It’s better to be prepared. Hence, if you don’t have a lawyer, find one that specializes in personal injury suits in the same way you would find a reputable car accident attorney if you get into a crash–with careful selection and consideration.
Call your homeowners’ insurance agent
Your homeowners’ insurance provider should be notified of the accident as soon as possible. They will be able to tell you what you need to do next, as well as the documents you need to be able to file a claim.
Start gathering documentation that you would need for the personal injury claim. If you are being sued, your lawyer will likely ask for documents from you as well.
This type of event is particularly stressful, especially if the injury causes high tension between you and the person injured. Hence, keeping your documents organized can help avoid getting frazzled in the process; use folders to keep documents separate and then pile them into one big organizer or box to prevent anything from getting lost.
Having someone get injured within your property can be incredibly stressful whether you are at fault or not. Try to keep yourself as calm as possible throughout the whole ordeal. If the injured person ends up filing a personal injury lawsuit against you, avoid letting your emotions get the best of you. Letting tensions rise even higher can further complicate the situation, not to mention cause a bigger rift in your relationship.
Seek support from your loved ones, but try to keep the situation as quiet as possible. The details of the case should only be discussed between you and your lawyer. If you feel the need to blow off some steam, you can talk about it to your spouse (but apart from them, you should keep your lips zipped).
If someone gets injured on your property, the situation will be much calmer if you know what to do. So even though you’ve made the necessary measures to make your property safe for everyone, take note of these necessary steps in case someone does sustain an injury while on your property.