Can I Sue My Landlord For Premises Liability?
Accidents can happen anywhere. You can be hurt in a car crash by a negligent driver, trip on an exposed wire at the office, or step through a broken staircase in your apartment building. Many people are even injured in their own homes. When you are injured in your rented home or apartment building, can you ever hold your landlord liable? Are you always responsible for your own injuries in the home, even if they appear to be outside of your control? Continue reading to learn about landlord responsibility for premises liability claims, and call a seasoned Calabasas personal injury attorney. if you’ve been hurt through someone else’s negligence.
What is Premises Liability?
Premises liability is an area of personal injury law that applies when an injured accident victim alleges that the owner of the property on which the accident occurred is somehow responsible for their injuries. The typical premises liability claim most people think of is the “slip-and-fall.”
For example, if a person slips on a spill in a grocery store, and the grocery store employees either knew about the spill or should have known and failed to promptly clean it up or put up a warning sign, then the grocery store could be liable for the person’s injuries. Premises liability claims can also be based on things like negligent security or improper maintenance.
Are Landlords Liable for Accidents On Their Property?
Premises liability can be deceptively complex. For example, what happens when one party leases part of the property but another party owns the property? Who is liable for any accidents? What if the person leasing the property is injured? Can they sue the property owner? The answer turns on a number of factors including where the injury occurred, when the injury occurred, and what type of hazard led to the injury.
In California, when a landlord is prepared to turn possession of property over to the tenant, the landlord must first conduct a reasonable inspection of the premises and look out for any identifiable, unsafe conditions. The landlord must repair any such unsafe conditions before turning the property over to the tenant. If the landlord fails to repair any obvious or identified unsafe condition, and the tenant is injured by that condition, then the landlord is liable to the tenant for the injury. The “reasonable inspection” rule applies even if the injury happens after the tenant moves in, so long as the hazard existed and should have been identified before the tenant took possession of the property.
If the injury happened after the tenant took possession of the property, the question is more complicated. Landlords are not responsible for regularly inspecting tenant-controlled property for hazards; indeed, most of us would not want landlords regularly walking through our apartments looking for dangers, and landlords cannot even enter our homes without permission. For that reason, landlords are not typically liable for hazards that arise after the tenant has moved in and taken possession of the property. Instead, the tenant is liable for any injuries that happen on their property, including their own.
There are a couple of significant exceptions, however. First of all, landlords are always responsible for keeping common areas of the property safe. Stairwells, hallways, elevators, parking garages, and other areas that remain in the complete control of the landlord are the responsibility of the landlord, and they owe a duty to tenants to keep those areas reasonably safe from hazards. A landlord would be liable for a hazard that they either knew about or should have known about (such as a faulty staircase or elevator). Landlords may also be held liable for non-injury damages such as for theft of property if the landlord failed to take reasonable security precautions (e.g., leaving the parking garage open and unattended).
Additionally, if the landlord is actively, actually aware of a dangerous condition, and has the right to repair that condition, then the landlord should do so or risk liability. For example, if the residents of apartment 201 tell the landlord that their apartment is flooded, the landlord should warn the residents of apartment 101 (directly underneath 201) that their ceiling may be at risk of collapse due to water damage and request permission to enter and perform appropriate repairs.
If you or someone you love has been injured due to someone else’s negligence in Southern California, call a seasoned and thorough personal injury attorney at the Halpern Law Firm. We fight for the compensation you and your family deserve. Contact us at (818) 785-5999 today. These cases are handled on a contingency basis, meaning you won’t be charged any attorney’s fees unless we win.