What kind of recourse do you have if you are a renter who slips and falls inside or outside a property you are renting from a landlord? The truth is, your ability to pursue a “slip and fall” lawsuit will depend on what caused your fall as well as where you fell.
Proving Negligence in a Slip and Fall Case
The key word for slip and fall cases is “negligence.” You must be able to prove your landlord was negligent in order to hold him or her liable for your injury.
Slip and Fall Scenarios
There are many reasons why you might slip and fall on your landlord’s property. Unsafe property conditions, such as slippery or uneven surfaces, are just one potential reason that might have caused your fall. In fact, even if there are unsafe conditions on property owned by your landlord, this may not necessarily prove that he or she has been negligent. You will also need to provide proof that your landlord knew of the unsafe conditions and failed to rectify them. Keep reading for a hypothetical example of a slip and fall case that will help illustrate these legal concepts.
You slip and fall inside your rental home or apartment. Here in , perhaps your ceiling is leaking. The leak has caused a puddle on the floor. You walk across the puddle and slip and fall. But does this mean your landlord was negligent? Your next step will be to prove your landlord was aware of the leak (or should have been aware) and has failed to fix it. If the leak is new and you haven’t yet notified your landlord and requested repairs, in nearly every case you won’t have a negligence case. This is because your landlord must have the knowledge and the opportunity to fix the issue before being declared negligent.
However, if you have previously notified the landlord (or s/he was notified by a previous tenant) that the pipes are leaking in other places, and this is simply a new leak related to the underlying plumbing problem that your landlord has not yet fixed, you may have a legitimate negligence claim. This is only in the case that you moved into the home or apartment without being aware of the issue (i.e. there was no visual evidence to alert you and your landlord did not disclose the issue at the time you moved in).
However, if you moved in unaware of the issue, but then discovered it and notified your landlord and asked for repairs, and the requested repairs were not made, you may be able to file a successful negligence claim.
Overall (and unfortunately), slip and fall cases can be hard to win unless you provide very precise proof that the landlord knew of the issue and failed to resolve it and that same issue led to your fall.
Rental Property Exterior and Common Areas
In certain cases, the provisions contained in your lease will dictate who is responsible for your slip and fall. Here are two additional hypothetical scenarios for this type of case:
You were walking from your front door to the street and you slipped on snow or ice on the sidewalk. Who is liable? This is in fact your landlord’s property, but what does your lease say about who has the responsibility to keep the sidewalk clear of ice, snow and other hazards? If your lease states this is your responsibility, you have no case. If the lease states it is your landlord’s responsibility, and your lease states you have no responsibility to alert your landlord when the sidewalk needs shoveling or other maintenance, then you may have a case for negligence.
Let’s say you slipped while walking up or down the stairs outside your rental house or apartment. Here, whether or not you have a negligence case will depend on what caused your slip and fall. If there was some kind of foreign matter (spilled soda, ice cream, etc.) then proving landlord negligence will be very difficult. However, if your slip and fall was caused by broken or damaged stairs, and if the issues either violate the building code or if the issues were previously reported to the landlord but have not been fixed, you will have a much stronger case.
How to Prove Your Landlord is Liable
There are some ways to strengthen your negligence case and prove your landlord is liable for your slip and fall accident. You should definitely take pictures of both the accident scene and any injuries you sustained as a result. You should also write down everything that happened right away before you forget. If there were witnesses, you should try to capture their testimony right away as well. Getting your testimony and that of witnesses notarized can also strengthen your case.
Hire A Legal Professional
If you have been injured due to the negligence of a landlord or property owner, consult an experienced premises liability lawyer. The Brown Firm PLLC employs experienced litigators who will be able to analyze your situation and design a legal strategy so that you receive the compensation that you deserve.
Set Up A Free Consultation!
Don’t try to pursue a lawsuit without professional assistance. Our firm offers free initial consultations by phone or at our office location. Call The Brown Firm PLLC or contact us online to discuss your case.