How Do North Carolinas Premises Liability Laws Impact Vacation Rentals?

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As we all know, accidents are unpredictable and can happen while on vacation and even while you’re vacationing on someone else’s property. North Carolina is a particularly popular vacation destination. Short-term rental properties and the number of visitors renting properties have grown in recent years. 

Unfortunately, as North Carolina vacation destinations have expanded—so have preventable injuries and even wrongful deaths. As a result, there has been an increase in preventable harm suffered by innocent visitors due to the rental owner’s failure to properly maintain the rental properties and keep them safe for visitors like you and your loved ones. 

If you find yourself in this situation, and you or a loved one have been injured while vacationing in a North Carolina rental, keep reading to understand the critical things you need to know about how North Carolina’s laws impact your vacation rental injury case.

North Carolina Premises Liability Laws

Under North Carolina law, the owner of a vacation rental has a legal duty to maintain the conditions of the premises and ensure they are safe for lawful visitors, such as you and your loved ones vacationing there. You would qualify as a lawful visitor if you were legally on the property. For example, you are a lawful visitor if the owner is aware you are vacationing on the premises (i.e., you made formal arrangements with the owner through their reservation’s website). The distinction between a visitor and someone not legally permitted on the premises is important. Under North Carolina’s premises liability law, trespassers without legal permission to be on the premises are generally unprotected by the law. However, your guests to the vacation rental would be covered by the law.

It is critical to seek out legal assistance from an attorney licensed in North Carolina with experience handling vacation rental injuries and wrongful death cases at the hands of the negligent owner. The attorney will help you understand this law better as it relates to the specific facts of your case. Specifically, the attorney will gather and examine the facts and evidence, assess the strengths and weaknesses, and guide you on your best legal options. 

Owner’s Duties

The owner of a vacation rental property owes a legal duty to lawful visitors to exercise “reasonable care” to ensure that unnecessary exposure to a dangerous condition is prevented and/or eliminated. Reasonable care does not require the owner to ensure the premises are in perfect condition. Instead, the owner must take reasonable steps to ensure the visitor is safe from harm. 

If such a danger or hazardous condition exists, the owner must correct it or warn the visitor of the danger. For example, hidden gaps in a residential elevator are a common cause of death, especially among children. Providing a warning box or disabling the elevator altogether are ways that an owner can take reasonable steps to either warn or address the risk of injury and even death.

If a dangerous condition is present, and the owner fails to fix the issue or warn you, then the owner is exposed to potential liability for your injuries that occur because of the dangerous condition.  

Examples of dangerous conditions an owner should warn you about that may cause injury include:

  • Hazardous construction on the premises
  • Nonfunctioning smoke detectors and appliances 
  • Slippery indoor floors
  • A tree falling on the premises
  • Broken stairs
  • Unsecure railings
  • Poorly maintained decks
  • Unsafe steps
  • Unmarked hazards

Financial Compensation

You and/or your loved one may have suffered losses because of the preventable injury.

Such damages may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Medical expenses and bills such as hospital and doctor visits, ongoing treatment,   

            surgery, etc. 

  • Lost wages due to inability to work because of the injury, including loss of future 


  • Pain and suffering such as diminished quality of life as you are unable to enjoy 

            the hobbies that you once did before the injury or are suffering nightmares and 

            PTSD because of the traumatic accident. 

These losses are considered compensatory damages, which you may be entitled to make you whole as though the accident never occurred. Additionally, a court may impose punitive damages as a deterrent against the owner; however, it is limited to certain cases. For example, if the owner willfully and maliciously caused your injury. 

Seek legal help from an experienced North Carolina attorney who can best guide you on the complex issue of personal injury damages and assist you with their knowledge of how to calculate the fair amount of financial compensation you may be entitled to recover.   

Seek Legal Counsel for Your North Carolina Premises Liability Case:

If you have been adversely affected by a vacation rental property and have suffered harm, or a loved one has, it is important to consult with an experienced North Carolina attorney. An attorney licensed in North Carolina will be knowledgeable in the applicable North Carolina laws concerning vacation rental accident liability, including the Vacation Rental Act, which regulates vacation rental owner duties and obligations and is in place to protect visitors like you and your loved ones from preventable injury and in the worse cases—wrongful death. An attorney can guide you through the legal process and help you determine your best legal options to obtain relief for your losses. 

Speak To a Wilmington Attorney Today About Your Premises Liability Case

If you or anyone you know suffered an injury or worse on the premises of a vacation rental, you need an experienced premises liability attorney by your side to help you navigate the complex legal issues, including liability and calculating damages. If you have been injured due to the failures of a vacation rental owner or manager, you may be entitled to financial compensation to cover your damages. The committed Horton & Mendez premises liability attorneys have the knowledge and skills to effectively represent you in your case. Don’t delay! Contact us at (910) 490-4303 to schedule a free evaluation of your case. We are committed to ensuring you obtain the fair financial compensation you and/or your loved ones deserve.

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