You’ve been living in a rental home for a while, and things are starting to settle in. You know how all the appliances work, where to tell your guests to park, and the perfect temperature to keep the thermostat at for maximum comfort. But one day, something happens – You’ve just been injured at a property you’re renting.
What are your legal rights if you are injured at a property that you’re renting from someone else?
WHEN IS A LANDLORD LIABLE FOR A TENANT’S ILLNESS OR INJURY?
Not every injury or illness that takes place at a residential rental property means the landlord will be considered liable for damages. The property manager or landlord must be shown to have been negligent in caring for the property for the tenant to potentially receive compensation for any injuries.
All the following conditions must be met for a landlord or property manager to be held liable for damages:
- It was the landlord or property manager’s responsibility to maintain the area of the property where the injury took place.
- The landlord or property manager failed to take reasonable steps to avoid an accident.
- Fixing the problem or giving adequate warnings about potentially dangerous conditions wouldn’t be overly expensive or burdensome.
- The accident was foreseeable, meaning an accident was a likely consequence of not fixing the problem.
- The landlord or property manager’s negligence caused your injury.
- You were genuinely injured at a property you’ve been renting.
If all the above conditions can be met, you could be entitled to compensation for medical bills related to your injuries, lost work or income, and even pain and suffering. You also may be able to seek reimbursement for damage to any personal property that was damaged due to the dangerous conditions, such as a broken cell phone or car.
AN EXAMPLE OF BEING INJURED AT A PROPERTY THAT QUALIFIES FOR COMPENSATION
Say you broke your wrist by falling off a set of stairs with a broken handrail. Your landlord or property manager has been determined liable for your injuries, meaning the following conditions were met:
- Your lease states your landlord is responsible for all repairs and maintenance, including the broken handrail.
- Your landlord knew about the broken handrail and didn’t repair it or, at least, warn you it was broken.
- Fixing the handrail or warning you that it was broken wouldn’t have cost a lot of money.
- Your fall due to using a broken handrail was a highly likely outcome of its condition.
- You were relying on the handrail to steady yourself when you fell, meaning the broken handrail caused your fall.
- You aren’t faking your broken wrist.
WHAT DO I DO IF I BELIEVE I WAS INJURED AT A PROPERTY & MY LANDLORD IS RESPONSIBLE?
As soon as you can following your illness or injury, document the conditions in your home exactly as they were on the day of your accident. Take photographs, draw diagrams, and write down a narrative of your accident.
Consult with an attorney who has experience working with cases of tenants injured at a property. He or she will give you a better idea of whether your unique situation may qualify for compensation or not.
The first step toward getting payment for your injuries is usually to submit a claim to your landlord or property manager’s insurance company. Sometimes, this claim pays your bills in full, but there are situations where the case needs to be pursued further, possibly even in court.
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