As a real estate agent, you deal with a lot of different customers during tours and open houses. However, what happens if a customer slips and falls during one of these visits? Who is liable if an injury occurs?
To help you understand this better so that you can be prepared, here is what you need to know.
Who is Liable For a Slip and Fall?
Slip, fall, and trip injuries account for around 25% of all injury claims every year, and because they are so common, it’s likely they could happen during a home tour or open house. As a real estate agent, you need to know how to protect yourself by understanding the liability surrounding this issue.
When it comes to understanding liability, it’s important to know about hazards that could pose a trip and fall risk around the home, and note them to clients. For instance, if a real estate agent or the homeowner is aware of a hole or small step that isn’t easy to see that could pose a risk, it is their duty to point this out to visitors.
However, if it is a hazard that no one could reasonably know about, neither the homeowner nor the agent will be held responsible. For instance, according to Distraction.gov, in 2010, 18% of all accidents were caused by distraction, so if there is an obvious staircase that a client trips while walking down due to being distracted, the fault would be on them, as opposed to the agent or homeowner.
Many places don’t have a specific law revolving around situations like this, and so it depends on the individual cases and what caused the accident. However, in many cases, any accident, such as a fall, would have consequences for the homeowner as opposed to the agent or broker. This means that as an agent, you most likely will have nothing to worry about legally when it comes to a client having an accident in the home that you are showing. So no need to worry about having a bail bond agency on speed dial to act as a surety! Unless you physically push, trip, or leave something on the ground purposely, the blowback will almost never be on you.
How to Prevent Falls
To make the home you’re showing as safe as possible, work with the homeowner to remove potential issues. For instance, all of the lights should be operational, all weapons should be put away so they cannot be accessed by visitors, and even kitchen knives should be stored out of the way, just in case.
Similarly, rugs, cords, and other furniture items that can be a trip risk should be moved so that visitors don’t end up falling over them.
How to Handle a Fall If It Happens
If you are showing a home or hosting an open house and a fall occurs, the first thing you should do is assess the injury and ask the injured party if they would like you to call an ambulance. Some falls will be minor and many people will laugh them off. However, if the individual is elderly or fell a long-distance, calling for medical aid will be important to do quickly.
Even though any legal ramifications won’t impact you, it’s still important to keep in mind how you can make the home that you’re showing as safe as possible.
Before showing a home or hosting an open house, always be sure to ask the homeowner about any hazards around the home and inside of it. If possible, remove things that could cause harm, and always communicate these areas and issues to visitors so that everyone stays as safe as possible.
Photo by Sammy Williams on Unsplash