In Iowa, the answer is... Sometimes.
The simple answer is that you may be liable if there is a dangerous condition on your property and you never warned anyone.
According to a legal review from 2016 by Iowa State University's Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation, "Bottom line, tort law requires that we take responsibility for our own actions and the hazards we create. If we don't, we can be sued and ordered by a court to pay damages to those we have harmed." The report goes on to explain that there are several different torts or civil causes of actions that people can seek damages for, but the most common is negligence.
The Iowa Supreme Court issued a ruling in 2009 that outlines the factors of reasonable care. Some of these included:
- The foreseeability of potential harm
- For example, if you don't want people to trip and fall, you shouldn't have a bunch of loose extension cables or holiday lights across your sidewalk where people may traverse. You also shouldn't go full Kevin McAllister inside (or outside) your home.
- Why the person was on the property
- This is important because it's less likely the property owner is responsible for the safety of trespassers in the case of accidental injury
- The circumstances, time, and manner of when the person entered the property
- If the property owner or occupier could have repaired or given warning of the potential danger (opportunity), and how easily it could have been done
There are a few more factors to consider as well, which can be found In the Koenig v. Koenig Iowa Supreme Court ruling document found here if you're curious.
Have questions about injuries that happened on your property?
We wrote a blog about it to cover it more in-depth. Click below to check it out!