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Can I Sue My Landlord for Premises Liability?

Alte Treppe

It is common knowledge that if you slip, trip, or fall on someone else’s property, you might be able to bring a legal claim against the owner of that property. Any accident you have on someone else’s property, if it is caused by a hazard that they either created, knew about, or should have known about, might give rise to premises liability. But what if you have an accident in an apartment or office building in which you are a renter? Are there ever grounds to bring a claim against your landlord? Learn below about your rights against your landlord concerning premises liability, and contact a dedicated Glendale slip and fall lawyer if you or a loved one has been injured on someone else’s property in California.

Accidents in the building

Landlords, like all property owners, have a responsibility to anyone who legally and with permission enters onto their property. Common areas such as the building lobby, the elevator, the entranceway, and the staircase are all under the care and control of the landlord. Even though you rent an apartment or office in the building, you are not responsible for keeping up these areas (unless your lease specifies otherwise). When there are dangerous hazards in those areas, such as a broken staircase or a slippery lobby floor, landlords could be liable for injuries those hazards cause.

Landlords owe you and any other invited guests a duty to keep the premises safe from known and unknown hazards. They must conduct regular inspections for obvious and hidden hazards (termites, structural weaknesses, exposed electrical wires, etc.), and they must either repair or clearly identify any such hazards. Landlords are responsible for clearing up slip, trip, and fall hazards, repairing structural weaknesses, keeping parking garages protected, and having appropriate security measures such as locks on the doors and security guards where appropriate. If you are injured in an area of your building under the control of your landlord, and the injury is a result of their negligent care or maintenance, then you might have a claim for premises liability.

Accidents in your own apartment or office

Landlord liability becomes trickier when an accident occurs in your own apartment. Even if you are renting, you are still generally responsible for keeping your own premises safe for people, including yourself. You might still be able to bring a claim for premises liability, however, if your injury was caused by the negligence of your landlord and regarding something for which they are properly responsible.

For example, if your apartment contains asbestos and you contract mesothelioma, you likely have a claim against your landlord. Likewise, if you were injured in your apartment as a result of a building defect–a doorframe breaks down, a staircase falls apart due to termites, faulty wiring causes you to be electrocuted, or some other structural issue creates a danger–you could have a claim for liability against your landlord. The terms of your lease may dictate which types of fixtures are your responsibility and which are up to the landlord to repair. Also, if you report a dangerous condition and your landlord fails to fix it, or the landlord fixes a dangerous condition in a careless manner that leaves the condition still dangerous, your landlord might be liable for injuries that result.

Landlord liability will turn on whether the landlord had proper control of the object or place where the accident occurred, whether the landlord was negligent in maintaining that part of the property, whether injury was a foreseeable result of the failure, and whether the hazard was or should have been obvious to the tenant. If your ceiling collapses because of a lack of maintenance, it would be hard to argue that the collapse was your fault; you can likely sue your landlord.

Contractual limitations

It is important to note that your rental lease may address landlord liability in the event of an accident. Your lease may specify that any accident claims must be brought through arbitration, for example, instead of a lawsuit. Your lease may even include language that protects the landlord from property-related accidents. However, even that type of language cannot completely protect a landlord from accidents that are caused by their own negligence. Speak with a premises liability attorney about the circumstances of your accident and the language in your lease to learn whether you may have a claim for premises liability against your landlord, and about the potential limitations on your claims.

Call for Legal Help After a California Slip and Fall

If you were injured on someone else’s property in California, get help seeking damages from a dedicated professional by contacting the determined and trial-ready Glendale personal injury attorneys at McReynolds Vardanyan LLP for a free consultation at 818-855-2115.

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