Wondering about the rules surrounding liability for injured guests on your property? We’ve got you covered with this helpful guide.

When someone gets hurt on a property, who’s to blame is not always cut and dry. There are a number of factors to consider, such as where the injury took place, and who is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of that area.

In this article, we’ll be taking a look at when you may be held liable if someone gets hurt on your property.

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Liabilities by Property Type

Let’s start by taking a look at some liabilities for some common property types.

Liabilities for homeowners

As a property owner, you have certain responsibilities that you should be taking care of to ensure that anyone on your premises remains unharmed. Here are a few examples of some hazards you should be taking care of:

  • Slippery surfaces. Be sure to check your region’s bylaws to check how long you have to ensure all snow is cleared from your sidewalks. This is important to ensure that pedestrians, mail carriers and guests don’t trip and fall on slick surfaces.
    If someone should fall accidentally because you haven’t cleared your sidewalk within the allotted time, you could be held liable for injuries that occur. This also includes removing any wet leaves from your walkways during autumn.
    Watch out for interior surfaces as well. If you’re having a get-together and someone slips on a spilled drink, the injured person could come after you for damages — even if you’re not at fault.
  • Unexpected bumps, gaps, and cracks. While erosion is natural, it’s important to make sure that your walkways are flat surfaces that won’t cause harm if anyone accidentally trips on them. If you have steps leading up to your house, ensuring that there are no chips or cracks in the material is another important component to ensuring that no one gets injured on your property.
  • Loose handrails. If any of your walkways or staircases have loose handrails, and someone should slip and fall while leaning on them, they could come after you for personal injuries. Make sure to periodically check that any railings on your property are bolted down and secure.
  • Have the proper insurance. Having a good Homeowner’s Insurance policy can go a long way towards keeping you protected. In many cases, the proper coverage can keep you from having to pay for any legal fees if any injury victims come after you for any damages, even if you’re not at fault. It can also help to pay for damages for any accidents and injuries if you’re found to be at fault.

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Liability for condos and townhouses

If you own a condo or townhouse, many of the same responsibilities as homeowners more than likely apply to you. However, this may apply more to townhouses than condos, since townhouses often have front yards and sidewalks.

For both condos and townhouses, many common areas will be the responsibility of the Homeowners Association (HOA). This means if your guest gets injured in a shared walkway, games room, or foyer, it’s unlikely that you’ll be held at risk.

Liability for rented properties

While that covers premises liability for homeowners, condos, and townhouses, let’s take a look at what happens if someone gets hurt on your rental property.

Since you’re renting someone else’s space, there are times when you can hold your landlord liable for injuries that happen on your premises. Here are a few examples:

Injuries in common areas. If your guest gets injured due to a broken stair in a common area of a condo or townhouse, your landlord may be held at fault since common areas are often their responsibility.

Previous knowledge of existing dangers. If your landlord is aware of a dangerous condition in the property that isn’t immediately obvious, they’re responsible for letting you know about it before you move in. This can include warped floors or unsafe patio or deck areas.

If you’re renting, you’ll want to make sure you have the correct Tenant’s Insurance policy that will cover you in the event of a disaster. Having the correct policy can save you from having to pay out of pocket should something unexpected happen.

Related read: What is Renters Insurance and why is it important?

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FAQs About Injury Liability

Here are some other frequently asked questions about when someone gets hurt on another’s property:

If someone falls on your property are you liable in Canada?

The answer to this question all comes down to whether or not you’ve provided a reasonable standard of care to your property. If your sidewalk has cracked and broken pavement and someone slips and falls on the uneven ground, you could be held liable for any damages — including hospital bills and loss of income.

Can an injured trespasser sue the landowner?

While a landowner is generally not responsible for the injuries of a trespasser, there are some exceptions to this. For instance, if someone owns a large acreage and is aware of regular trespassing, they may be required to put up warning signs if there are certain dangers on their property. Examples of these dangers could include:

  • Game hunting on the property
  • Dilapidated structures
  • Dangerous animals on the property

Can I be sued if someone slips on my driveway?

One of the most common claims for injuries in driveways is caused by snow and ice not being removed. If you’re responsible for clearing your driveway and someone slips and falls, you could be held responsible for any personal injury claims. However, different areas have different laws about the amount of time property owners and tenants have to clear their walkways and driveways, so be sure to check.

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