Why You Are Liable For Injury Suffered By a Visitor in Your Premises
What if there’s a domestic accident in your premises, in the course of which your visitor gets injured and insists you should be responsible for his/her treatment, or perhaps demands for compensation if the injury leads to incapacitation? Would you say the visitor is being mean and unfair? Why should you be liable? After all, your property also may have been destroyed in that accident. Unfortunately, in such a situation, the visitor is right. No matter how severe the damage to your property is, if a visitor gets injured in your premises, the onus is on you (the occupier of the property) because it is your responsibility to care for their lives and their property while they are within your premises. This is known as Occupier’s Liability.
Occupier’s liability is the responsibility which the occupant of the premises bears in respect of loss or injury occasioned to anyone who lawfully comes upon his premises as a result of the defective, dangerous or negligent condition of the premises. An occupant denotes a person (property owner/tenant) who has enough control over a property to put him under a duty of care towards those who lawfully come into the premises.
In Nigeria, the laws governing an occupier’s liability to persons who enter a property are common law and statutes. Occupier’s Liability in Lagos State is regulated by the provision of the Law Reform (Torts) law, modeled after the English Occupier’s Liability Act, 1957, which was enacted to reform the confusing common law rules in England. In other states of the country where there are no law reforms, Occupier’s Liability is governed by the common law.
As an occupier, you are bound by the common law to a duty of care towards three categories of persons, namely:
- Those who are on your property by express or implied invitation i.e. an invitee or a guest who is on a visit to you.
- A licensee who comes into the premises to transact business with the occupier’s implied or express warranty.
- Trespassers who come upon or remain on the premises without the occupier’s permission or authority.
This means that you must do what is reasonable and in your power to ensure the safety of visitors to your property and protect them from probable harm. This duty of care applies to both the inside of the house and the general surroundings. However, it does not apply to a visitor that willingly enters into harm’s way. A good example of this is a visitor walking into a place designated as out-of-bounds to unauthorized persons.
In addition, if someone is trespassing, or enters your property with the intention of committing a crime, you are subject to a modified duty of care. Nevertheless, in both of these situations, you are obligated not to create a hazard with the deliberate intent of injuring someone or to act with careless indifference to the presence of the person on your property.
In the event of a disaster involving a visitor or their property in rented properties where there is a landlord-tenant relationship, the issue of who owes a duty of care can be more contentious. Therefore, as a tenant, it is necessary for you to report and record all potential danger issues on the property to your landlord for prompt repairs. Also, it is important for you to be diligent in maintaining your home in order to remove all hazards. As a landlord, you can try to minimize your liabilities in event of an accident. Here are a few measures you can take:
– Inspect the property regularly to make sure it’s free from hazards.
– Maintain a list of complaints from tenants and document repairs that were made.
– Encourage tenants to come forward with safety concerns.
– Make timely repairs on issues flagged by your tenants.
However, accidents do occur. Sometimes, this could mean that you’ll be accountable for someone else’s injury, or for the loss suffered. If this happens, you may be bound by law to compensate that person. These preventive measures, combined with having an insurance coverage in place, can go a long way to protect you from getting into an awkward position following an accident at your premises.
With the Leadway Household, Automobile and Personal Accident Policy (L-HAPPY), you get a comprehensive cover for any possible risk, including risk to visitors on your property. It is designed to provide the statutory minimum liability cover required for you as an occupant. L-HAPPy is a one-premium, multi cover policy that covers your home and its content in the event of fire, natural perils and malicious damages, and also provides coverage for your vehicles, in a single premium package.
For more information on L-HAPPy and other insurance policies in our offering, please SMS HAPPY to 22865 or contact our team on (01) 2800 700, 2800 701 or 08129997070. You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.