HO liability

After a lot of thought, we have confirmed a sit with a family with a young child (3 year old). The family has a lot of experience, and has lots of great reviews. After we’d confirmed, the mom asked me where the nearest hospital was, “just in case”. It seems that the 3 year old had jumped off a couch during a previous house sit and needed stitches. At another sit , same child pulled some hot tea off a counter and burned herself, also requiring ER attention.
I didn’t think of this while we were talking, but a friend wondered if the family could sue us if something similar happened during their sit for us. We did not describe our house as “child friendly”, and we’ll do our best to tuck away anything that might attract little hands and be potentially dangerous, but wondering just what our liability is here? Does anyone have any insight on this?

If you’re in the U.S., you can be sued for all sorts of things. Even if you end up winning, it takes time and money to defend a suit. When people are on your property, you do generally face liability claims if they’re injured and want to pursue damages. Presumably, you have homeowner’s insurance and it would be up to your insurer to defend (and pay if needed), but of course that could raise your premiums or they could decide to cut off your insurance.

Do you know if THS helps out in any way in a case like this? The family does not strike me as litigious, and they’ve been doing this for years (the little girl, literally her whole life!), I’m not super worried, it just made us a little uneasy.

All this kind of things depend on the jurisdiction that you are in. Where I am (Sweden), “everybody” has liability insurance, so that would be both the home owners and the parents. If anything happens, the details are then sorted out be their respective insurance companies. And if the pet was involved, then the pet insurance company.

I once read on the forum that should anything happen to your friends that visit your home…that it is better to not be proactive with your insurance carrier and only be in touch with your insurance carrier if there is a problem with your friends that visited.

We are in the sue-crazy US. I think I just won’t worry about it and trust that things will be OK. Of course, we have homeowner’s insurance if all else fails. We never worried about it before, but with a little, active child…

@JudyY , THS offers home and contents protection with standard and premium memberships. You are required to carry your own homeowner’s insurance and file a claim with your company first before THS will accept a claim. It provides up to $1M of liability or damage protection. There are conditions that must be met. You can read these here:

If a sitter sues you for liability you will most likely be dealing with your own homeowner’s insurance company.

THS insurance focuses on property and contents damage or loss, not on liability if someone gets injured at your home. That typically would fall under your homeowner’s coverage in the U.S.

Not clear on what you’d be hoping that THS would help with along those lines. You could always ask membership services, but I doubt that THS would help protect you against the risk of that happening. I don’t see what they could reasonably offer you.

Perhaps you could ask the sitters to sign a disclaimer that waives your responsibility? I know it’s not a legal document but it will allow you to gauge their response and self sufficiency and also give you evidence that this was flagged if anything did come up. As others said it would depend on the location of the sit as to what is covered and by whom. You probably have nothing to worry about :+1:t3:

It’s worth asking as @Cuttlefish suggests if the OP is concerned. From a sitter perspective, I’d never sign something like that, even though I’m not litigious. That’s because something unexpectedly disastrous might happen and you’d be left without recourse. Say there was an electrical fire that wasn’t your fault and you were badly injured. That’s just an example, of course, and such things are rare, but do happen in life. And that’s why insurance exists.

Yes, the risk of being sued as a host exists. It does anytime you have guests over, have people do work on your home, etc. If the host is genuinely worried about this, it might be better to pass on sitters who seem more risky than normal.

I lot of people do say on their Ad not suitable for children. I did a sit where the homeowner had an issue with a previous sitter. There were very steep stairs in the house and the sitter had asked to bring her grandchildren over as they lived nearby and the home owned said no. She found out afterwards not only had they visited but also stayed the night. The owner was a textile specialist and her house held a lot of things from her travels that were precious. We don’t sue here so much as they do in the USA but you need to weigh up the risk and most of all be able to go away and relax without worrying. Maybe reconsider the suitability of the sit for the applicants

Many folks think the U.S. is too litigious. There’s certainly abuse of the system. I wonder how many people realize that part of our problem is our lack of a health safety net if you’re injured or otherwise end up needing long-term medical care in the U.S. Without suing, for example, various injured people wouldn’t be able to afford care. And tangentially, the majority of bankruptcies in the U.S. are because of medical bills.

I highlight this context, because every country is different and often the context can help us better understand how and why things unfold as they do, good or bad.

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Thanks, everyone, for weighing in. As I said, it wouldn’t have occurred to us, but someone planted that bug in our ear, and it got us thinking. The family was able to come by in between sits. They saw the house and didn’t seem concerned about anything. I’m going to trust that things will be OK.

Thanks again!


Such an excellent point, Maggie8K. I certainly can’t defend the US health care system! I wanted Elizabeth Warren for president!

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