Spending the day down the shore with friends or family is supposed to be relaxing. But just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean accidents won’t occur. And just because you were a guest, not a paying customer, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek compensation if you have been seriously injured.
When you are a paying guest it is reasonable to expect that the property you are staying at will be safe, and that you will be compensated if you suffer an injury. But can you expect the same treatment if you are staying at a friend or family’s property for free?
In New Jersey, a host’s duty to a social guest is more limited than the duty of care owed by someone who is making a profit.
The social host must warn of dangerous conditions he or she knows about that the guest may not be aware of. However, the host does not need to carefully inspect his or her home for dangers that he or she would not observe in his or her own use of the home.
For example, if the host knows the shower floor gets unusually slick, he or she should warn guests. But if the host doesn’t know that the shower in the guest bathroom gets slick because he or she has never showered in there, they are not required to test out the shower floor for slickness before hosting guests.
In addition, social hosts are under no obligation to make improvements or alterations to make their homes safer for guests than for themselves. To expand on the shower example, even if the host realizes the shower floor gets really slick, they are not required to put down a non-slip mat or new tile. All they need to do is warn their guests the floor gets slick.
New Jersey courts have also ruled that hosts should not be held liable for injuries to a social guest if the guest was aware of a dangerous condition, or by reasonable use of his or her facilities would observe such a danger.
All this gets to be kind of confusing, which is why we encourage you to reach out to our office if you have been injured and are wondering if you should seek compensation. We will listen to your story and let you know whether you have a case and what we think your options are.
A Tricky Question
Even if you have a slam dunk case, it can be difficult to decide if you should ask a friend who so graciously opened their home to you for assistance paying your medical bills. They were kind enough to invite you to come visit, and you don’t want to ruin your relationship with them, but you feel like it is kind of their fault you are hurt. We get it. And we can help explain your options to you so you can make an informed decision about whether or not to seek compensation for your injuries.
The first thing to remember is that you aren’t actually asking your friend or family member to personally pay up. What you are really doing is making a claim against their insurance company. This is exactly why people buy insurance, so it really shouldn’t be shocking to your friend that you are asking them to use something they bought for its intended purpose.
We can talk you through this, and help you figure out what to say to your friend to preserve your relationship and your legal claim.
Please call our office today so we can help get you on the road to recovery.
Posted in: Personal Injury