You’ve always been willing to lend your neighbors a hand with an odd job or two when they asked — like hauling your ladder over to change a few lightbulbs for the elderly couple next door or digging the leaves out of the gutter for the disabled lady down the block.
But what happens if you slip and fall and get seriously hurt while you’re helping out? Your medical insurance may cover some of your bills, but not all of them — and there’s no way you can afford to go without an income while you’re recovering.
Can you file an insurance claim against your neighbor? Well, it depends.
Do they have homeowners insurance?
Putting your emotions aside, it’s important to get down to the basics: This is exactly the sort of reason that people carry homeowners insurance. If you file a claim, you aren’t asking your neighbor to pay your bills out of their own pocket. If you have to sue to get fair compensation, it’s not your neighbor you’re suing but their insurer. (Knowing that may help ease a lot of your concerns about being an “unneighborly” neighbor.)
If your neighbor doesn’t have insurance, you may have a thorny social problem on your hands — and a thornier financial one. Without insurance, they may not have either the funds or assets to pay a claim.
Was the accident your fault or their fault?
Your claim will fall flat unless your neighbor’s negligence caused your fall. When you decide to climb up a ladder to help someone out, you are knowingly assuming a certain amount of risk. If you fell because you lost your balance or didn’t set your ladder up correctly, that’s not your neighbor’s fault — so their insurance won’t pay.
What sort of things make your neighbor liable? Consider these examples:
- The floor was uneven or recently waxed and your neighbor didn’t warn you before you set up the ladder.
- The floorboards on their back deck were loose or rotting and you had no idea before you stepped out there.
- There were tripping hazards around the area you were working because your neighbor dropped some tools outside and forgot them.
If you’ve been injured in a slip-and-fall accident while working on your neighbor’s house, don’t despair: Find out what it takes to make a successful claim for compensation for your losses.