Premises Liability: Injured While Visiting a House for Sale?
House hunting? More than likely you’re getting first glimpses of available homes by attending open houses or by personal showings with real estate agents. None of us like to think about it. But, what happens if you’re injured while visiting a house for sale? Can you pursue a premises liability claim?
In our continuing series on premises liability claims, we’ll provide you with some interesting information regarding accidents involving prospective homebuyers. All kinds of things can happen while shopping for a new home. Bottom line: Who’s responsible?
Injury Claims for Accidents at Open Houses/Real Estate Showings
The most reported injuries at open houses and real estate showings occur as a result of slip and fall accidents. People may fall on upturned carpeting or mats. They may trip over something in the walkway. In some poorly maintained homes, individuals may fall over debris. Slip and fall accidents can occur on outside decks or around the pool. The list goes on.
We’ve mentioned other types of accidents that can occur during house hunting visits. A recent news article tells the story of a man who went up in the attic to get something and subsequently fell through the ceiling onto the cement floor. What if this happened to a prospective homebuyer who was attempting to check out storage space? It certainly is conceivable.
It seems obvious that the homeowner bears some responsibility for a premises liability claim occurring on their property. After all, people who attend open houses or real estate showings are considered invitees under the law. The homeowner has a duty to ensure that the premises are reasonably safe and protected against dangerous conditions.
Does that duty just stop at the homeowner? According to a published court decision, the answer is no. The real estate agent/broker may also share in the duty of care to make sure premises are safe when hosting an open house or showing a real estate property.
In the case we cited above, the claimant was attending an open house hosted by a real estate broker. The injuries occurred as the prospective buyer fell on steps that were claimed to represent a dangerous condition. The real estate broker didn’t cause the hazardous condition. So, why did they share in liability?
The court ruled that the real estate company had a duty of care to anyone invited to attend the open house. They knew or should have known that there was an issue with the steps. (The claimant actually missed an inconspicuous step that joined two rooms.) The real estate broker had an obligation to warn prospective buyers of the dangerous condition.
In order to determine the culpable parties in a premises liability case, it is important to secure experienced legal advice. The Law Offices of Anthony Carbone has decades of experience representing injured accident victims. Contact us to set up an appointment to discuss your case.