How Homeowners Insurance May Cover a Personal Injury Claim

Key Points:

  • If you are injured due to the negligence of an individual home owner, most homeowners insurance policies include “personal liability coverage,” which may insure the damages caused by an injury, while protecting the homeowners finances.
  • A personal injury case can take anywhere from a few weeks to several years to reach a settlement, depending on the length of investigation, your recovery and negotiations.
  • The size of your payout depends entirely on the specifics of your case, the available policy coverage, how severe your injuries are, any financial losses because of the injury, and the skill of your lawyer.
  • The extent of injury, whether it is permanent and the amounts of medical bills, prescription bills, hospital bills and other expenses will affect the total amount in damages you receive.

Homeowners’ Insurance May Cover Accidental Injuries Both at and Away-From a Residential Property

Many people think of homeowners insurance existing just to provide coverage for damage, such as a fire, or incidents such as a home burglary. But, homeowners insurance may also cover the personal assets of a homeowner or their family who, through negligence, may cause an accidental injury that does not involve the use of a motorvehicle.

Examples of this may include a homeowner or one of her children accidentally shooting a friend in a hunting accident, failing to maintain or supervise a swimming pool, or a dog escaping from the homeowner’s property and attacking a neighbor.

Common Acts of Negligence Covered by Homeowner’s Insurance

Some common acts of negligence by homeowners that our firm, and other personal injury law offices in Georgia have recovered under homeowners’ insurance policies include:

  • Mismanagement of a swimming pool, by not taking reasonable steps to make the pool safe for guests.
  • Careless management of a dog or pet, which results in the animal attacking another person on or off the homeowners’ property.
  • ATV or Golf Cart accidents, caused by the homeowner or a resident of the household.
  • Accidental injuries, such as hunting accidents, bicycle collisions, or accidently tripping someone, causing severe injury.

Types of Injury Coverage Commonly Included in Homeowners Insurance Policies

Medical Payments Coverage

Homeowners insurance policies may have a rider known as medical payments coverage. This coverage is meant to pay medical bills and costs associated with an accidental injury at a residence, up to a certain amount. 

In broad terms, the amount of available insurance coverage is typically a round number, often $5,000 or $10,000, and pays an injured visitor’s medical bills up to that amount, regardless of whether the homeowner was negligent or at-fault.

Liability Coverage

Liability coverage may cover the cost of defending or paying a personal injury claim, if the owner of the home or a household resident is alleged to have negligently caused an accidental injury.

Umbrella Liability Coverage

Umbrella coverage is an additional layer of insurance added to the base coverage on a homeowners policy, intended to protect a homeowners personal wealth. If the damages alleged to have been caused by an injury resulting from an owner or household member’s negligence exceed the liability coverage policy limit – umbrella coverage may cover additional costs or a judgment above the base policy limits.

Frequently Asked Question About Homeowners Insurance Injury Claims

Is it Required by Law That Georgia Homeowners Have Insurance?

Georgia law does not require homeowners to have property damage and liability insurance. Most homeowners will be insured if they have a mortgage, due to the bank or mortgage company requiring the property (their collateral) to be insured.

Does Homeowners Insurance Typically Pay For Injuries to a Resident of the Home?

Not usually.  A standard or typical homeowners insurance policy does not cover accidents or injuries to residents of the insured household.  So, while a homeowners policy may cover an incident of negligent injury to a third-party, the policy would not cover a resident of the house.

Can a Homeowners Insurance Policy Cover an Injury Away From the Property?

It can.  Because this insurance is designed to protect the home owner’s personal assets, as well as the mortgage company’s interest in the property, negligent personal injuries caused by a resident of the house are often covered. 
For example, homeowners insurance may cover a dog that bites in a city or county park or a shopping center parking lot.  The Millar Law Firm has also successfully recovered money under home owner’s policies for accidental shootings or other unusual negligence that took place off-property.

How Do You Start a Homeowner’s Insurance Claim for a Personal Injury?

  • Document the details of the accident. Date, time, witnesses, story, etc….
  • Collect all of the homeowners contact information – if you do not already have it.
  • Request the name of the insurance company, and any of the information about the policy from the homeowner.
  • Call or contact the insurance company for the negligent homeowner.

What Should I do if the Homeowner Who Injured Me Refuses to Provide Insurance Information?

Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common situation.  We find that after an injury many people are told by the owner that he or she will help in “any way possible” or “will pay your medical bills.”  But when the negligent owner is presented with the bill or finds out how much your medical expenses are, not only will they not pay, they may refuse to give you any insurance information.  What should you do?

Many times, the only way to move forward after a homeowner fails to give you their insurance information is to hire the services of an attorney or lawyer who handles injury claims.  A letter from a lawyer demanding that the case be turned over to the home insurance company and threatening a lawsuit often gets the job done.  But some property owners still refuse to cooperate, usually making a lawsuit necessary.  We find that filing and serving a lawsuit on a home’s owner who has insurance, while a last resort, almost always results in the owner finally notifying his or her insurance carrier.

How Long Does a Homeowners’ Claim Take to Settle?

In large part, how long it takes for any insurance claim, including home or property insurance cases, depends on the length of time it takes for you to recover from your injuries.  But, it can also be controlled by the amount of available insurance.

Most of the time, you probably do not want to begin settlement negotiations until the full extent of your medical bills and expenses are known. It can be difficult or impossible to re-open your case if you settle too quickly, before all of your harms, losses and damages are known.

Sometimes, however, there is only a small amount of insurance compared to the severity of the injury. In such cases, waiting may not make any difference and it can be in your best interest to demand and accept the entire policy limit.

An example of such a claim might be a severe dog mauling in which the victim is hospitalized and disfigured, and the dog’s owner has only a $100,000.00 policy. A case like this may settle for the entire policy limit while the injured person is still recovering from her injuries, because this is the full amount of the available insurance. Under the same facts, however, if there were a larger $1,000,000.00 insurance policy, the case is likely to take longer to resolve because more facts will need to be known about the full extent of the past and future medical care in order to determine what the full value of the case is and how much of the full policy limits are to be paid.

Should You Talk to the Homeowner’s Insurance Adjuster?

As Georgia injury attorneys, we do not recommend talking with any insurance adjuster without first consulting with a lawyer.  Even the most seemingly simple cases can have legal or medical defenses that you may not be familiar with.  An insurance claims representative or adjuster is trained to act friendly yet look for ways of building a defense that will allow the insurance company to pay-out the least amount of compensation he or she can get away with paying.

Saying the wrong thing to an adjuster, or just being a “nice guy or gal” and making damaging admissions about fault or the nature of your injuries – like saying you are “fine,” when you are not – can haunt you later when the claim is denied or a much smaller than expected settlement offer is made.

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