Personal Injuries Caused by Negligent Landlords
In the US, over 36% of the households rent their apartments, condos, or single-family homes. The number of people renting their homes has increased steadily over the last 50 years. Many people opt for renting their homes as it can be cheaper, it offers less financial commitment than purchasing a home, it provides flexibility as most rental agreements span 12 months or less, and your landlord or property management company keeps the responsibility to maintain the exterior of the property. For those who are limited in time or just don’t enjoy the exterior upkeep needs, renting a home may be an attractive option.
When you rent your home from a landlord or property management company, they retain the responsibility to ensure that the exterior of your living space is free from hazards. The reach of their responsibility extends from the parking lot, sidewalks, common areas, pools, interior hallways and rooms. In some cases, they may have liability for certain interior accidents that occur within your living space.
In addition to their liability to tenants, landlords and property management companies have a responsibility to ensure safe and hazard-free conditions to visitors and guests that visit their property as well.
Landlords should regularly inspect the external common areas of their property to remove any hazardous or unsafe conditions. Failure to do so can result in injuries to tenant, guests, or other visitors on the property. If you or a loved one is injured in Florida due to a landlord’s negligence, you will likely need to speak with a Florida premises liability personal injury lawyer. At Wolfson & Leon, our Florida personal injury attorneys have fought for clients since 1963 and they are standing by to help. Call (305) 285-1115 for your free consultation.Who is Responsible – The Landlord or The Tenant?
While landlords are responsible for the exterior areas of their property, whereas renters have an obligation to ensure the interior living areas are safe.
A landlord is typically responsible for inspecting and maintaining the following;
- Keeping sidewalks free from obstruction, as well as addressing any broken sections or holes.
- Hallways, walkways, and parking lots are properly lit
- Balconies and patios should be sturdy and in good working order
- Stairs and handrails are in good working order
- Maintain landscaping, including trees and branches
- Ensure that overhead items are properly attached, such as ceiling tiles and overhead fixtures for lights
- Repair potholes or broken parts within the parking lot
- Broken or malfunctioning equipment, such as HVAC units, heaters, or condensers are properly maintaining and replaced when needed
- Proper pool cleaning and safety measures
- Ensure entryways and lobbies are free from obstruction. Some entrances have a tendency to get wet if it rains, so landlords need to ensure that the walking area is not slippery
- Playgrounds should have safe and properly maintained equipment
- Clearly mark areas that are under construction
In addition to the above, landlords should also ensure that door locks are in proper working order, electrical wires are properly hidden and do not present shock or tripping hazards, and that all smoke alarms are functioning properly.
Under the premise liability laws, it is a landlord’s responsibility to take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety for those on their property. A landlord may be negligent if they do not maintain a safe property.
Renters, on the other hand, are responsible for the safety within their homes. Since landlords are not expected to regularly inspect the interior of their tenants’ homes, they have minimal responsibility for safety. As a renter, however, you are required to notify a landlord of any potential hazards within your home that would require repair. This may include electrical problems, broken appliances or equipment, broken pipes and other plumbing issues,
Items that require repair and maintenance within a tenant’s home should be reported to a landlord as quickly as possible, following their prescribed format. In some cases, requests must be in writing and in other cases, it may require a phone call. When tenants delay reporting these issues and an accident occurs, the landlord will most likely not be held responsible as they were not notified timely.
Renters are encouraged to carry renter’s insurance. These policies, however, typically cover the contents within a home, such as furnishings, clothing, and household items if damaged by an event that is covered by the policy. It may also cover injuries by guests within the home.Landlord Liability for Injuries and Damages
If a landlord does not carry out their legal responsibility to ensure a safe environment for their tenants, guests, and other visitors, they may be considered negligent. Landlords must take all steps to inspect their property and repair broken or malfunctioning items timely. If you or a guest of yours has been injured as the result of a landlord’s negligence, contacting a personal injury attorney will help you claim the damages that are due to you.
Claims for injuries and damages are often submitted through the landlord’s insurance company. They may work to settle quickly in order to keep their costs low. Settling early, however, may not provide enough compensation to recover from your injuries. Continuing care or a longer-term absence may be necessary, depending upon the severity of the injury. An insurance company may not take these items into consideration which may result in the victim receiving less than they need.
In order to pursue a claim against a landlord for damages, the injured party will need to prove that the landlord was negligent in carrying out their duties. Negligence may be proved by;
- Demonstrating that the landlord was aware of the issue
- Proving that the landlord should have known that the hazardous condition
- The landlord was aware of the situation but did not take steps to fix it
- The injury was sustained as a direct result of the landlord’s action or inaction
If you have a serious injury, seek medical attention immediately. If your injury appears to be minor, be sure to see a doctor as soon as possible. Minor injuries can become aggravated and painful if they are treated.
Whether you are pursuing a negligence claim or not, it’s a good idea to keep copies of any written requests and notifications that you’ve sent to your landlord about hazardous condition.
In addition to the above, it is also helpful to have;
- Pictures that reflect the time and date of the injury. Multiple pictures are best that show that the different angles and hazard that resulted in the accident.
- Keep a written diary to document all communications with your landlord, including written and verbal. Note the time and date of the communication.
- Names, addresses, and statements of anyone who witnessed the condition either before or after the incident.
- Copies of medical bills or invoices related to your injury
For over 50 years, the attorneys at Wolfson & Leon have defended the rights of victims who have been injured as a result of landlord negligence. We work directly with insurance companies, lawyers, and landlords to represent our client’s interests. We can help you recover the compensation you need to pay for medical bills, lost wages, and continuing care. If you or a guest have been injured in an apartment building or condo contact Wolfson & Leon for a free consultation at (855) 982-2067.Personal Injury Law Firm of South Florida
With offices located in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Fort Myers, and West Palm Beach, we proudly serve the residents of these cities and their surrounding communities including Tampa, Orlando, Florida Keys, Jacksonville, Naples and Sarasota. If you or a loved one has been injured, contact the Florida personal injury attorneys at Wolfson & Leon today at (305) 285-1115.