Where someone is injured on someone else’s property, details as to the circumstances of the visit and the conduct of the property owner can make a significant difference in the outcome of an insurance claim. In many states, including Alabama, if the injured visitor is an “invitee,” then, ordinarily, the property owner is responsible for any negligence he or it commits. A typical example would be a grocery store who permits a slippery floor condition that injures a customer.
In a non-business context, the rules can be different. Where someone is a visitor at someone else’s home, he or she might be considered a “licensee” rather than an invitee and mere negligence on the part of the homeowner might not be sufficient for recovery. The criteria may call for proof of wantonness or recklessness. Some important exceptions can apply, however. If the injured visitor, in connection with the visit is providing a “material benefit,” that can cause the visitor to be considered an invitee, making the property owner responsible for acts of negligence. A “material benefit” need not necessarily be a purely business transaction; someone assisting the homeowner with repairs or other improvements at the house can be an example of an invitee.
Another exception could involve a property owner who commits an act of “active negligence” which causes the injury, as compared to an injury being caused merely by a condition in the property itself. An example of “active negligence” might be negligently striking the visitor with a tool or object.
In addition to fault-based liability claims on homeowners insurance or other insurance coverage of property owners, policies often contain “med pay” coverage which provides small medical expense amounts, without a showing of fault.
A Cum Laude Honors graduate of Cumberland School of Law, Alabama tort law expert Mike Roberts has successfully litigated cases covering civil litigation, personal injury, negligence, product liability, wrongful death and fraud. He is the author of six editions of Alabama Tort Law, and is licensed to practice law before the United States Supreme Court.