Tenants who suffer an injury on a rental property should consult a lawyer experienced in personal injury law, since the landlord could be held liable depending on the circumstances of the injury. Compensation in a personal injury case of this kind can cover economic harm such as lost income and projected lost earning capacity caused by disabilities, medical bills, the cost of ongoing medical care, or toxic exposure that causes illness. Compensation can also be non-economic and cover pain and suffering, emotional distress, or reduction in quality of life due to scarring or disfigurement in the case of a serious injury.
Can a tenant sue a landlord for injury?
Property owners and managers have a “duty of care” to maintain their premises in a safe condition and prevent foreseeable harm to occupants and visitors. The potential liability of a landlord for injuries depends on various factors, including the laws of the specific jurisdiction. Below are a few common situations in which a landlord may be held liable when there is a tenant or visitor injured on property that they manage.
Negligence – If a landlord fails to take reasonable steps under the circumstances, and the accident was a foreseeable result, this is negligence. It is a landlord’s duty to maintain the property in a safe condition and address necessary repairs and hazardous conditions. If a landlord fails to do this and a tenant is injured as a result, the landlord may be held liable. For example, if a leaky pipe leads to a slip and fall accident or a tenant trips and falls on a broken staircase that the landlord knew about but did not fix, that landlord may be held responsible for the injuries. Note that even if a landlord outsources ongoing maintenance or repairs to a third party, they are still responsible for the property and potentially liable for injuries sustained there.
Code violations – Landlords are responsible for ensuring that their properties meet health and safety codes. If there is a tenant injured on property that they manage and this injury is tied to code violations that the landlord was aware of (or should have been aware of), the landlord may be held liable.
Inadequate security – Landlords are responsible for providing adequate security, including taking reasonable steps to protect tenants from foreseeable criminal acts. If a tenant is injured due to inadequate security such as poor lighting or insufficient locks on doors or windows, the landlord may be held liable.
Breach of duty – Landlords have certain duties and responsibilities that they must adhere to under the law. For example, adhering to fair housing laws and not discriminating against a tenant based on protected characteristics (race, religion, gender, disability) is one duty that a landlord has. Another is respecting their tenants’ privacy rights.
What is premises liability?
Premises liability law determines whether a landlord can be held liable for an injury sustained on their rental property. Premises liability refers to the legal responsibility of a property owner or manager to ensure that their property is safe and free from hazards. It holds the owner or occupier accountable for any injuries that occur there due to negligent maintenance, unsafe conditions, or failure to warn visitors about potential risks.
The concept of premises liability applies not just to residential rentals but to all kinds of properties including commercial buildings, retail stores, restaurants, office buildings and public spaces. When individuals enter these premises, they have a reasonable expectation of safety, and the property owner or manager has a duty to maintain a safe environment.
What happens if a tenant is injured on a rental property?
If you experience an accident or injury on a rental property, it is important to take certain steps to protect your well-being and legal rights:
- Seek medical attention. Your health and safety should be the top priority. If you are injured, promptly seek medical attention, either by calling emergency services or visiting a healthcare professional. Even if the injury appears minor, get a medical evaluation, which will also help the doctor be able to help document your injuries, if necessary. But the immediate priority should be to get the treatment you need and follow all of the doctor’s instructions.
- Notify the landlord or property manager: It’s crucial to inform the landlord or property manager about the accident or injury as soon as possible. Provide them with a detailed account of what happened and any information about the conditions that led to the incident.
- Document the incident: Once medically stable, you can focus on gathering the evidence to support your claim.Take photographs or videos of the accident scene to capture any hazardous conditions or factors that contributed to the injury. Additionally, gather any relevant evidence, such as witness statements or contact information, that may support your case. Document your own account of what happened. And keep all financial records including receipts and medical bills.
- Report the incident: If the injury occurred due to a hazardous condition or negligence, consider reporting the incident to the appropriate authorities, such as building code enforcement or local health departments. This can help ensure that the necessary inspections and actions are taken.
- Preserve evidence: Preserve any physical evidence related to the accident, such as torn clothing or damaged personal property, as this may be useful if you decide to file an insurance claim or pursue legal action.
- Consult with an attorney: If your injury is significant or you believe the landlord’s negligence caused the accident, it is wise to consult with a personal injury attorney. Personal injury lawyers in Los Angeles can evaluate your case, advise you on your rights and options, and guide you through the legal process if necessary.
Is a landlord liability waiver effective?
Liability waivers on leases are known as exculpatory clauses and are often not legal and enforceable. If your lease contains a “landlord not liable for injury clause,” don’t pay it too much heed. In California, landlords can’t protect themselves from lawsuits by putting clauses in their rental agreements absolving them for injuries suffered by tenants as a result of their negligence. If you’re injured as a result of a dangerous condition and want to bring a claim against your landlord, do not be dissuaded by a liability waiver on your lease.
Again personal injury lawyers in Los Angeles will be able to review the terms of your lease and determine the best course of action in filing a claim.
Personal Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles County
If you would like to learn more about how to handle landlord-tenant disputes and are looking for a personal injury attorney in Los Angeles and Orange County, we’re here to help. We can review the details of your accident and look into whether you are eligible for damages. Whether inside or outside of court, we’re ready to fight for the maximum compensation to which you are entitled. Contact us today for a free consultation with a Los Angeles injury attorney.