Visitor Question

Can my neighbor sue me for burning himself?

Submitted By: Frances (Chesapeake, Virginia)

My neighbor came over to help my husband in the yard. They decided to burn the leaves. My neighbor brought the fuel and poured a lot on the leaves. When it was lit he suffered 3rd degree burns. He came to my house yesterday demanding my insurance information because he is going to sue my husband and I.

Can my neighbor sue me because he burnt himself on my property?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Frances,

Frances:

Anybody can sue anybody anytime. That doesn’t mean they are going to win their case. Let’s try and answer your question by using an example. We will call the homeowner Fred and the neighbor Ed.

Fred and Ed get along well. It’s not uncommon for Ed to come over to Fred’s home or Fred to Ed’s. There is a common understanding that each can come on the others property without a specific invitation. Otherwise Fred would have to call Ed and say “Are you inviting me onto your property to burn leaves?” And Ed would have to wait for Fred to say “Yes I am extending a formal invitation for your to come over to my yard.”

It just doesn’t work that way. There is an understanding that each is invited over to the other’s home with the need of a separate formal invitation each time.

So the day of the burning of the leaves Ed was invited to come over to Fred’s. The law then calls Ed an “Invitee”. When an invitee comes over to another’s home and is injured the invitee has a right to ask for compensation for his injuries, even if the invitee may have accidentally burned himself while helping his neighbor burn leaves.

Once injured the invitee has a right to contact the homeowner’s insurance company to request compensation for the medical bills and other related expenses resulting from the burn. That is what homeowners insurance is for. In your case it is likely your insurance will pay for your neighbors’ injuries. That is normal. In so doing your neighbor isn’t “suing” you. Instead he is making a legitimate claim against your homeowners policy.

Now if for any reason your homeowners insurance decides not to pay for the injuries, then it is true your neighbor can sue the homeowner for his injuries.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: June 22, 2011

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