Do homeowners in Virginia have to protect guests from injury? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

The common law principle of premises liability gives homeowners an enforceable legal duty to act to prevent injuries to and deaths of other people if the homeowner is aware or should be aware of a dangerous condition. In practical terms, this means homeowners must keep their residences in good repair, keep their properties free from hazards and exercise adequate supervision over vulnerable visitors like young children.

To give just one common example of a homeowner’s premises liability, a barbecue attendee who trips on a loose porch step and breaks her leg would have strong grounds for filing an insurance claim against the homeowner who neglected to repair the porch stairs.

Dog bites also fall under the broader umbrella of premises liability because a pet owner has a responsibility for ensuring that all the animals they keep are well-trained and properly fenced or controlled.