One of the benefits of being a Los Angeles homeowner is having friends come over to visit or play video games. Suppose a few of your friends get into a scuffle over the results of a video game or the score of a football game.
Suppose, during the brawl, someone suffers a serious injury. In that case, you may wonder who is responsible for the injuries.
Simply put, if the friend who got injured decided to sue you after the brawl, you might be held responsible as the homeowner, even if you did not take part in the matter that led to the disagreement.
In other words, you can still be sued as the homeowner if a fight occurs on your property. This does not mean you will automatically be held responsible in court, but you should have the proper protection before it happens.
The liability coverage provided by your homeowner's insurance could legally protect you. Further, if any property damage happened due to the fight, coverage included in the policy would help pay for the repairs. COVID quarantine rules kept people apart, but now that restrictions have loosened, many individuals are returning to the social scene.
Homeowners are quick to resume the backyard barbeques or pool parties and, as welcome as this return to normalcy is, sometimes these get-togethers spiral into rowdy behavior, disagreements, or all-out fights.
Disagreements or overly rambunctious guests can create danger and result in injury. If you are the homeowner or someone injured by fighting or disorderly behavior at someone's house, you might need to understand the details of the homeowner's insurance policy. Let's review this topic in more detail below.
Understanding the Purpose of Homeowner's Insurance
The belief that homeowner's insurance only covers property damage is a common misconception. These policies also cover injuries sustained on the property and serve to protect the home's equity from claims by third parties.
For example, without homeowner's insurance, a lawsuit against a person who doesn't have enough liquid cash may require the homeowner to sell the house to fund their legal obligations.
Each policy is different, and to understand what you might be entitled to if you're injured at someone's house, you will need to understand the parameters of the policy.
Homeowner insurance provides several significant protections. The core coverages in a standard homeowner's policy include the following:
- Liability covers legal expenses, such as attorney fees and settlements, if you're sued for bodily injury or property damage to a third party;
- Structural damage covers the house or structure of the home that could occur during fighting inside the home;
- Personal property damage covers personal belongings, such as furniture, appliances, collectible items, and other types of property;
- Additional living expenses (ALE) cover extra costs if your home is severely damaged and you must temporarily live somewhere else, such as in a hotel room, during the repairs.
Without insurance, you might have to settle the incident with your friends alone. Then, a peaceful resolution can be reached. Still, if one persists in wanting to pursue charges against you and you don't have liability coverage, you might have to pay the legal fees on your own.
Essential Facts About Homeowner's Insurance in California
Insurance laws differ from state to state, and whether or not your personal injury claim will be covered by insurance depends on a few factors. In researching your options, it's essential to know the following:
- Homeowner's insurance is not required in California;
- Not every homeowner's insurance policy provides liability coverage;
- Injured parties must prove homeowner negligence to win a claim;
- Homeowner's policy coverage is often limited to $100 thousand;
- Intentional injury caused by the homeowner may not be covered;
Let's now review this issue from a victim's perspective. First, suppose you're injured during a gathering at another's home. In that case, you must determine whether the homeowner’s negligence caused the injury, someone's intentional act, or some other circumstance.
Depending on the policy and the extent of your injuries, it may be necessary to sue the homeowner personally for their negligence.
When Will Homeowner's Insurance Cover Injury from a Fight
Homeowner's insurance coverage usually isn't triggered unless the policyholder acts negligently.
Even then, the victim can only pursue the insurance company if the policy provides personal liability coverage.
Assuming both of these prerequisites are met, the California Department of Insurance states, “The homeowner's policy will provide coverage in the event you or a resident of your household are legally responsible for injury to others.”
The keywords in the above-stated language are “legally responsible.” For example, suppose you want to make a successful claim against the insurance provider.
In that case, you must demonstrate that the homeowner is legally responsible for injuries sustained when disorderly behavior broke out at their house.
Legal responsibility can occur if the homeowner was negligent and that negligence caused your injury. This often presents as a premises liability case. For example, you may have a claim if you tripped over dangerously slippery flooring when a fight broke out.
What if You Can't Sue the Homeowner?
If you're injured because of another's recklessness, negligence, or dangerous behavior, you may have a claim for personal liability against that individual even when there's no applicable insurance coverage.
Determining the proper defendant can be difficult, especially if multiple parties were involved in the disturbance. However, identifying the proper defendants in a lawsuit is critical to the success of your civil action.
Effect of Alcohol Consumption on Guest Behavior
Some states impose a relatively strict measure of liability on homeowners who serve their guests alcohol, but California is not one of these states.
California Civil Code Section 1714(c) says, “No social host who furnishes alcoholic beverages to any person may be held legally accountable for damages suffered by that person, or for injury to the person or property of, or death of, any third person, resulting from the consumption of those beverages.”
Notably, exceptions exist to the above-stated rule, and liability could be imposed where alcohol is served to individuals under 21.
If the host overserved their guests, and those guests started an alcohol-induced fight that led to your injury, you probably won't have legal recourse against the host. Still, you could claim against the individuals who directly caused you harm.
Again, homeowner's insurance policies could be an avenue toward compensation if, during the fight or disagreement, some unsafe condition in the house resulted in your injury.
What to Do After an Injury at Someone's House?
You should immediately seek medical attention if you're injured at another's home, which ensures the treatment you need and allows for documentation of the incident.
Next, you need to find out if the homeowner has policy coverage for personal injury. If the homeowner is your friend, this is often awkward, but this is the purpose of homeowner's insurance.
Further, it would be wise to document the incident as best you can by writing down the details in a journal. It would also be wise to take pictures of the injuries and where they occurred.
As noted, homeowners' insurance policies might cover bodily injuries on the property, but this does not ensure that the insurance company will pay any claims.
If you need more information about seeking compensation after a fight at a friend's home, contact our law firm to review the details and legal options. Injury Justice Law Firm is located in Los Angeles, California.