When is Your Landlord Liable for Injuries?
You may know that landlords are sometimes legally responsible for injuries that happen on their property. But, your landlord isn’t necessarily liable just because they control the property where you got hurt.
If you’ve been hurt on rental property, the best way to find out whether you may have a personal injury claim against the landlord is to consult an experienced local personal injury lawyer. This post will provide a general overview of when and why a property owner or manager might be responsible for injuries to a tenant.
Premises Liability Law
Property owners are typically responsible for maintaining the premises in safe condition for those who are legally on the grounds. The law is slightly different from state to state, and the duty of care may vary depending on the reason the person is on the property. A tenant on rental property would typically be owed the highest duty of care, meaning that the landlord would be obligated to:
- Take reasonable care to maintain the property in safe condition for the tenant, and
- Warn of any non-obvious hazards the landlord knew or reasonably should have known of
Here’s how that plays out in a few different scenarios.
The Tenant Slips and Falls Because the Landlord Left the Entryway Floor Wet after Mopping
A wet or soapy floor presents a risk of slipping and falling. So, a landlord who mopped the floor would generally have an obligation to either restore the floor to safe conditions or clearly mark the area to let tenants and others know the floor was wet and might be slippery. If they failed to do so and a tenant slipped and was injured, the landlord would likely be responsible for any resulting injuries.
The Tenant Slips in a Puddle Left By Another Tenant
This scenario is similar to the first one, except that the landlord didn’t create the situation. Instead, another tenant who passed through the foyer earlier spilled liquid on the floor and left it there. The landlord may or may not be liable in this situation. It will depend on whether the landlord should reasonably have known of and taken care of the hazard.
If the spill happened two minutes before the injured tenant entered the foyer, the landlord likely wouldn’t be responsible, since they couldn’t reasonably have been expected to know about the spill and take care of it in that short period of time. If the spill happened two hours ago and another tenant stopped by the office in the building 90 minutes ago to let the landlord know about it and they didn’t clean up or put up a sign, they may well be liable. Of course, there are many variations on this situation, and the best way to find out whether the landlord may be liable would be to talk with a local premises liability lawyer.
It’s also worth noting here that the tenant who spilled the liquid and left the mess behind may be responsible or partly responsible for the injury. However, it is often more difficult to collect damages from an individual who likely isn’t insured for this type of liability.
The Tenant is Roller Skating in Her Kitchen and Falls and Bangs her Head on the Stove
This is another fall-related injury on the landlord’s property, but there are some important differences. First, the landlord didn’t do anything to create the risk of the fall, nor did the landlord fail to do anything that would have been reasonably required to keep the premises safe. Second, the tenant isn’t using the kitchen as intended, and should reasonably have known the risks of choosing to skate in that setting.
Generally, the landlord would not be responsible in this situation.
Negligent Security Claims
Negligent security is technically a type of premises liability, but it’s different from the typical slip and fall type injury case. In a negligent security case, a landlord may be held liable for injuries inflicted by a third party if the landlord had reason to know there was a specific risk and failed to act, or if the landlord promised security measures that were not taken.
Other Possible Injury Claims against a Landlord
In addition to these property-specific responsibilities, a landlord may be responsible for negligently causing or contributing to an injury in the same ways anyone else might be. For example, if the landlord’s employee negligently hits a tenant with their car while on the job, the landlord would be liable in the same way any other employer would for a car accident caused by an employee’s negligence.
Another example would be negligent hiring that resulted in harm to a tenant. For instance, imagine that the landlord hires someone who has a history of home burglaries and gives them keys to tenant apartments. One day, a tenant arrives home and surprises the employee, who has let himself in to break into the tenant’s safe. A fight ensues and the tenant is injured. The landlord might be liable for having failed to conduct an appropriate background check before giving the employee access to tenant apartments, or for knowingly putting someone with that type of background in the role.
The bottom line is that a landlord isn’t automatically liable for any injury that happens on their property. But, if that injury happened in whole or part because they were negligent or didn’t fulfill their legal responsibilities, they may be legally responsible for damages.
To learn more, contact experienced premises liability lawyer Kevin P. Broderick for a free consultation. Just call 978-459-3085 or fill out the contact form on this site.
Have you been injured?
Let Attorney Kevin Broderick answer your questions and evaluate your personal injury or vehicle accident case for free!
CALL TODAY 978-459-3085
Kevin Broderick Law serves clients in Massachusetts and
Areas of service in
Areas of Service in
The information you obtain on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters, and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.