Injured at your apartment complex? Read this.
It’s an accident that can happen to anyone. One evening, you’re out jogging or walking your dog around your apartment complex. Perhaps your foot lands in an unforeseen pothole. Maybe you twist or sprain your ankle. Worse still, you could hit your head on the way down. No one wants the inconvenience of this kind of injury, but it’s incredibly common. If you are injured because of the negligence of your apartment complex (i.e., exposed nails, loose floorboards, broken staircases, inadequate lighting, dilapidated play areas, etc.), you may be eligible to seek recovery from the property owner. Just this year, several of our clients have received six-figure settlements for injuries resulting from the negligence of apartment managers and owners.
In general, the law requires landlords for apartments, duplexes and rented homes to maintain the common areas of their property in a way that ensures these areas are reasonably safe for residents and guests. This means that the landlord must keep all sidewalks, roads and other shared areas safe. By failing to meet this standard, landlords may be held liable for any injuries that occur from their failure to maintain the property. However, it’s not enough to just show that an injury occurred. It also must be shown that the landlord knew—or should have known—about the dangerous condition and failed to attempt to remove or repair the danger to their tenant.
It’s incredibly difficult to demonstrate that landlords actually knew about the presence of a dangerous condition on the property—and even more difficult to get them to admit it, with one exception. The law allows slip and fall cases to be proved with “constructive knowledge.” This simply means that, if the landlord created the dangerous condition itself, or if the condition was present for so long that the landlord should have discovered and removed it by exercising reasonable care, the law then assumes that the landlord had the knowledge necessary to hold them liable for any injuries caused by the condition. The longer the condition has been present, the more likely a court will find that the landlord should have made repairs. Furthermore, the court may consider the nature of the condition when deciding whether it has been present for long enough to find the landlord liable. For example, ice on a sidewalk is more easily addressed and than, say, a pothole in a roadway would be. Courts will consider how long it would take to fix the problem when deciding whether to assign liability to the landlord.
It is important to note that not every slip and fall injury will allow the injured person to successfully hold the property owner liable. But if the dangerous condition has existed for an extended time period, or if the condition has been brought to the attention of the landlord and he or she has failed to make the necessary repairs, then it may be possible to recover from the landlord’s negligence.
The facts in every case are different and unique, but if you are injured because of a dangerous condition in your apartment or rented home, you may be entitled to a recovery. At the very least, if you’ve been hurt because of negligence on the part of your landlord or property manager, you deserve to know whether that party could be held liable for your injuries. Please contact our office if you think you might have a case. We can help.