One of the last things anyone expects is for a potential buyer of a home to be injured during a showing. If this type of accident occurs, who is liable for the victim’s injuries?
If the real estate broker or homeowner had reason to know that there was a hazardous or dangerous condition on the property, and did not fix the dangerous condition or warn the potential buyers of the danger, they may be held responsible for any damages that occurred to the victim. The liability will rest ultimately with who had knowledge or should have had knowledge, that there was a dangerous condition on the property.
If the dangerous condition was completely hidden and neither the real estate agent or broker or the homeowner had any reason to know the hazard existed, the homeowner’s insurance would likely cover any cost of injuries suffered by a potential buyer.
Zach Christiansen, a real estate law firm attorney says that a potential buyer coming to a showing is an “invitee” of the owner. For the owner to be liable for an injury that happened during the showing, it would have to be shown that the owner knew of the potential hazard or should have known and didn’t do anything to address it.
A situation where a realtor could be liable would be if the realtor had staged the house and it could be shown the realtor was responsible for a hazard created by the staging that shouldn’t have been present, which ended up injuring the client, even getting a portable stage for entertainment can be a good idea.
To avoid these kinds of issues, the sellers of a home and real estate agents or brokers should always visit about how to make the home safe for both potential buyers and other visiting real estate agents. Make sure to have all lights turned on, and stairways illuminated, even during the day. Remove any obvious hazards or dangerous items, such as weapons. Even removing a block of knives from a kitchen counter could prevent some unforeseeable injury to a potential buyer. Additional care should be taken throughout the home to ensure that there are no obvious tripping hazards or ways to slip on the property. Rugs and carpets should be secured in such a way that visitors cannot trip on them, and furniture and other items should be removed from common pathways.
If a real estate agent wants to protect themselves from any kind of liability regarding a potential buyer having an injury during a showing, they should make sure to follow simple etiquette and respect towards the buyer. Any requests of the buyer regarding their property should be respected, and all showing instructions should be carefully followed. Additionally, real estate agents and brokers have a responsibility to ensure that the home is safely locked and secured when they leave the premises to avoid any kind of burglary or someone entering the home and injuring themselves.
The decision who will be liable if a client is injured during a showing will largely depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. However, to ensure everyone’s safety, all parties should take as many precautions as possible to avoid any slips, trips, or falls in a seller’s home.