If you happen to have a beehive on your property and someone gets stung by a bee residing in it, would you be legally liable for the individual's damages and losses? The question seems ridiculous at first glance, and most would assume there is no way to control what insects do. Surprisingly, though, there is an instance in which you could be held responsible for injuries caused by bees on your property.
Negligence via Failure to Warn
Negligence is a legal theory that holds people liable for injuries caused by their failure to perform duties expected of them. This failure can be the result of an act of omission or intentional conduct. There are five elements required to prove negligence in a particular legal case:
So how does this legal theory apply to bees and stings? Well, in America, property owners have a duty to warn visitors of any dangers that may be present on the premises. This gives visitors the opportunity to take appropriate precautions to ensure their safety. If one of the steps on the stairs leading up to your home is rotting, you have to let people know so they can avoid stepping on it and hurting themselves, for instance.
Likewise, if you know there is a beehive on your property and you fail to warn visitors of its presence, you could be held liable if the person is stung while on the premises.
Protect Yourself from Lawsuits
The law has a couple of built-in protections that may help you avoid being sued, and there are things you can do to further protect yourself. You generally won't be liable for damages if the beehive is in an obvious place. The beehive is sitting in a corner of your porch and is the first thing people see when approaching your home, for example.
You also may not be liable if the sting occurs off your property. This is because it can be difficult to prove the bee came from the hive on your property and no other place. When the sting occurs on your property, the injured party can make a reasonable argument that the bee more likely than not came from the hive on the premises because of the proximity to the property. However, the farther away from the home the sting occurs, the less likely this argument will be effective. Even your next door neighbor may find it challenging to successfully prove the bees on your property are responsible for their injuries depending on how much distance is between your homes.
You can protect yourself from a lawsuit involving bee stings by placing a sign warning people about its presence. You should probably go a step farther and place a notice on the sign that bee stings can cause an allergic reaction. While this information is fairly common knowledge, there are people who don't know it as well as people who are completely unaware they are allergic to bee stings.
Unless you're keeping the bees to harvest the honey, it's best to remove beehives that are attached to your home. Not only can the bees become pests during the spring and summer months, their activities can actually damage the home and cause other problems. If you're concerned about the health and safety of the bees, there are no-kill options a pest control expert can employ to safely relocate the bees to a more suitable area.
For more information about safe bee removal or assistance with dealing with a hive, contact a bee removal company.
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