You are probably aware of the common personal liability exposures that you face, such as your dog biting someone, or a visitor to your home being injured in a fall. However, have you considered other, less obvious exposures? In your everyday life, you regularly interact with other people, and unfortunately, all of those interactions are potential opportunities for personal liability exposure to injury and damage. However, if you are mindful of the risks you face, you can more effectively manage those risks and your personal liability. Don’t let the list below is not intended to frighten you. Instead, use it as a reminder to be conscious of the risks, and to always have the proper insurance in place.
Sports Activities –
Whether you engage in contact team sports or individual sports, these recreational activities are a significant source of personal liability. Causing injury to someone during a football or basketball game seems fairly obvious as a risk, but have you considered that skiing or biking on a slope or trail can also result in serious injuries to others? In both of these activities, you are generally traveling at a high rate of speed and an impact with an unprotected individual can cause injuries. Always keep this in mind before you start zooming down hills with reckless abandon.
If you own any firearms and keep them in your home, you are exposing yourself to serious personal liability. If you did not take the proper steps to secure your firearms and they were used in a way that injured others, you may be held personally liable. In fact, it’s not even completely clear that you are free from liability when protecting your home from an intruder. The Deseret News published a recent story about lawmakers in Utah trying to pass a law that makes it clear there is no liability when injuring someone while defending their home. But until this passes, the law potentially allows for civil liability against the homeowner.
Food Illness –
If you enjoy inviting friends and family over for meals, consider that they may be quite unhappy with you if they become ill from food you served. Not being a food service outlet that is inspected by the health department, you might not know all the things you need to do to prevent food illness. This is one exposure that can put a real damper on a great get-together.
Being a Klutz –
Do you find that you tend to trip and stumble often? While that might seem like a personal liability risk for others if you are in someone’s home, it’s also a risk to you if you cause injury or damage to others from just being accident-prone. For example, you might inadvertently knock someone down when walking down the street, or you might knock over some of expensive antiques at your friend’s house. Certainly, it’s best to not be clumsy in the first place, but it’s always good to have liability insurance just in case.
That beautiful, old oak tree in your yard may present one of the biggest personal liability exposures you have. If the tree were to topple over and cause damage or injury to your neighbors, particularly if you live in largely wooded areas such as Oregon, Vermont, Maine, and Washington, you would be faced with a very large and expensive claim. Consider hiring a professional to inspect and regularly trim your trees to prevent any damage to others around your property.