Landlords have a responsibility to ensure their properties are safe and habitable for their tenants. Therefore, when you slip and fall in or around your rental home, you may wonder if you can hold the owner of the premises liable for your injuries. It depends on how the accident happened and what the landlord knew at the time it occurred. Here are two things you need to know about winning a slip and fall lawsuit against your landlord.
You Must Show Negligence
To win your case against your landlord, you must sufficiently prove the accident occurred as a result of his or her negligence--i.e., something the person did or failed to do. There are four specific elements that must be true in order to attach liability to the owner of the premises for your injuries:
- The landlord had a duty to you
- He or she breached that duty
- The landlord's actions are the direct cause of your injury
- You suffered compensable injuries and losses
As noted previously, landlords have a legal duty to ensure their rental units are safe to use. However, a problem you may run into with your case is showing that the landlord knew (or should have known) about the issue that caused your accident.
For example, if the dishwasher breaks and spills water all over the kitchen floor and you slip and fall as a result, you would have to show that the landlord knew there was something wrong with the appliance and did nothing to fix the problem. If you didn't tell the landlord the dishwasher was acting strangely or you can't show the problem was so obvious he or she should've know something was wrong, you may lose your case.
Your Lease May Protect Your Landlord
Another thing that can tank your case is that your lease may absolve your landlord of liability in certain situations. Specifically, your lease may require you to be responsible for the maintenance and care of many aspects of the home, thus limiting the scope of the landlord's liability.
For example, the landlord may state in the lease that you are responsible for removing ice and snow in the common areas. If you slip and fall while trying to get to your vehicle after a bad snowstorm, you couldn't sue your landlord for damages because keeping the area clear was your burden.
There are a few other challenges you may run into when suing your landlord for an accident you had on the property. Your best option is to consult with a personal injury attorney who can advise you on the best way to handle your case to achieve the outcome you want. Consult a business like Putnam Lieb for more information.