There are many cases of bodily injury or property damage occurring during property showings, but most people don’t consider the potential danger of pets during a showing. With over half of all American households having a pet of some kind, it’s important to understand the potential E&O hazards they can present during real estate showings.
Let’s take a look at a claim from earlier this year to see how one miscommunication before a showing can lead to a costly E&O claim.
On May 1, 2019, the Realtor entered the Property with a Prospective Buyer, which had been listed for sale. Prior to this visit, the Listing Agent had provided the Realtor with the combination to a lock at the Property and stated that it was ready to be shown. When they entered, they were surprised by a husky dog roaming free throughout the Property, as neither the Seller nor the Listing Agent had communicated that there would be a dog present in the house. The energetic dog jumped at the Realtor, striking her in the head and face and causing a number of injuries including a fractured nose, chipped teeth, and a concussion. The Prospective Buyer recorded a video of this incident.
The Realtor finished the showing and notified the Listing Agent about the incident, but started to exhibit worsening symptoms as time went on, including headache, facial pain, nausea, dizziness, difficulty breathing, and memory loss. A hospital visit on May 3, 2019 diagnosed her with facial contusion and a closed head injury. A second visit to a different hospital on June 3, 2019 found her diagnosed with a concussion as well as a number of additional conditions. Per the physician’s recommendation, the Realtor underwent a septoplasty and nasal fracture repair at another facility on August 6, 2019.
The Realtor’s most recent visit to her doctor occurred on September 5, 2019. Though she had recovered from her surgeries without any major complications, she still experienced issues including pain, numbness, and memory loss.
The Realtor’s medical costs totaled $50,824.71. On November 19, 2019, her attorney filed a claim with the Brokerage, requesting a $95,000 settlement.
What Went Wrong
The Property Owner, the Listing Agent, and the Supervising Broker all had a responsibility to maintain the premises while providing safe access to the Realtor and potential buyers. The Listing Agent communicated that the Property was “ready to show” and provided the lock combination, but did not communicate that a potentially aggressive dog was on the premises. The Property Owner also failed to control and restrain the dog, despite knowing that the Property would be shown.
This may not be the type of claim that immediately comes to mind when you think of potential E&O claims in real estate, but they absolutely can happen, and they can be very costly. Because a realtor was injured while working, you may expect this to be considered a workers’ compensation claim. However, because this injury arose from negligence on the part of the Listing Agent, Property Owner, and Supervising Broker, this falls under E&O, not workers’ compensation. Make sure to carefully check and understand your insurance coverage. If an incident happens, you will want to be covered.
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