The busy holiday travel season is upon us. It is likely that at some point this holiday season, you will welcome family and friends into your home to celebrate the holidays with you. As a personal injury attorney, I often represent travelers and guests who are injured as a result of defects or defective conditions at hotels, stores, and other public places. There are also some occasions where a person injured on private residential property may successfully bring a claim against the homeowner.
However, the law does incorporate a form of immunity that prevents many of those incidents from being actionable. Delaware’s Guest Premises Statute is a law that provides immunity to the owners of private residential properties and prevents a guest without payment from bringing a claim against the owner of private residential property for injuries resulting from a defect or defective condition on the property. This means that even if there was some negligence or carelessness by a homeowner that caused injury, the law prevents a guest without payment from pursuing a negligence action against the homeowner.
There are some exceptions to this immunity, and the owner of private residential property is not shielded from responsibility for intentional or reckless acts or conditions that are willful and wanton. Additionally, because of a separate statute that provides strict liability for dog owners, homeowners will be held responsible for a guest’s injuries caused by the homeowner’s dog. Although the law does provide a form of immunity for homeowners against premises liability claims, homeowners can protect themselves from these claims by carrying sufficient homeowner’s insurance to cover them in the event there is a claim brought against them because of an injury that occurred on their property.