Tenants who become injured in residential properties are frequently unsure of whether they can bring a personal injury lawsuit against their landlords. There is no simple yes or no answer this question—landlord liabilities vary by state as well as by circumstance. Following are four major things that every tenant needs to know about personal injury claims and rental housing.
Negligence Must Be Established
One of the key elements that must be present in a successful personal injury lawsuit against a residential property owner is the establishment of negligence. For instance, if you slip and break your ankle while navigating the front steps of the apartment building in which you live, you probably won't have automatic grounds for a lawsuit against your landlord unless the injury was the result of a condition that the landlord has been made aware of and has not repaired in a timely manner. This is why it is very important to always keep written documentation of requests for repairs—if you simply inform your landlord verbally that the steps are becoming too rickety to allow for safe passage, you've got no proof of that to offer the courts.
Injuries Must Be Authentic
In order to successfully sue your landlord for personal injuries, the injuries must be authentic. You cannot, for instance, slip and fall and immediately claim that you were hurt unless you can back your claim up with evidence supplied by a qualified health care provider. You will need to provide the court with documentation of medical bills, lost wages, and any other financial looses that you have incurred due to the accident. In some cases, you may also be able to claim emotional distress, but this type of lawsuit is tricky and requires the assistance and guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney.
The Injury Must Not Be the Result of Abnormal Behavior
If you or a guest has been injured while on rental property and wish to file a personal injury lawsuit, it will need to be established that the injured party was behaving in a normal, reasonable manner. For instance, if the injury was caused by jumping up and down on the steps, you probably won't be able to file a successful personal injury lawsuit even the if steps were in dire need of repair at the time. Unauthorized activity such as attempting to climb over a fence which consequently breaks and causes injury is also extremely unlikely to be valid cause for a lawsuit.
Tenants May Be Liable in Some Cases
If the conditions of your lease state that you are liable for certain maintenance tasks, you will probably not be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against your landlord if you have become injured as a result of your own failure to adequately perform these tasks. For instance, if your lease states that you must maintain the yard, you won't have a case if you trip and fall over a blackberry vine that has grown out of control across your path. Furthermore, you may even face legal liability for this type of circumstance if a visitor should trip over the blackberry vine and sustain an injury. For this reason, it is very important for you to read and understand your lease as well as to adhere to any maintenance requirements detailed in the lease.
Fortunately, the law restricts which types of maintenance landlords can require tenants to be responsible for. These will vary according to city and county codes, but landlords must keep the property in habitibal condition. Landlord can require that tenants mow the grass and keep the weeds in check, but they can't require them to repair faulty electric wiring. For more information on personal injury lawsuits and rental properties, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer from a firm like Dunnigan & Messier P.C.