Review of a Personal Injury Claim Against a Landlord
Lawsuits against landlords for injuries occurring on rental property are a common personal injury claim in the state of California, which can be filed against the building owners, apartment complex owners, corporate landlords, and property management companies.
These types of personal injury lawsuits will seek compensation for any injuries suffered by a victim based on negligence. Put simply, these lawsuits allege that the landlord should be held financially responsible for a tenant or victim's injuries.
The argument is that the landlord is liable due to an unsafe condition that primarily caused the accident on their rental property. In other words, landlord lawsuits claim you were injured because the landlord was negligent in maintaining safe property conditions.
A lawsuit could be filed if you were hurt by a dangerous condition on the rental property, such as improper railings, broken stairs, uneven sidewalks, potholes, rotted floors, among others.
This type of lawsuit seeks to hold landlords liable through California's premises liability law and can benefit many victims, such as the renter, tenant, guest, and even hired workers.
In the State of California, property owners have a duty of care to make sure their properties are safe for others.
None more so than landlords who rent out their property to tenants. If you rent a home from a landlord and are injured due to landlord negligence, you may be eligible to recover damages for your injuries.
However, there are times when the landlord is responsible—and times when liability may not be so clear. Our California personal injury attorneys will review the landlord laws below
California's Premises Liability Laws
Injuries caused by landlord negligence fall under the category of premises liability laws as described in CACI No. 1000 and California Civil Code 1714a.
Premises liability laws hold property owners accountable for injuries caused by dangerous conditions on their property.
In California, if a hazard is created on the property and the landlord knew about it and did nothing to remedy it or warn guests, then they can be held liable. For purposes of the law, a "landlord" is anyone who owns, occupies, leases, or controls a property.
This definition of landlord extends to property owners, sublessors, property management companies, or any agent that assumes responsibility for the property.
To be successful in a landlord lawsuit for injuries on their property, it will have to be proven they were negligent in the maintenance of the property, and their negligence was a substantial factor in causing your injuries.
Examples of Negligent Landlord Injuries
The landlord has a duty of care to ensure safe conditions for all residents, tenants, and visitors to the property in question. They are required to repair the hazard or provide adequate warning about any dangerous condition on the property.
If unsafe conditions cause someone to be injured, and if the landlord knew or should have known about it and did not act promptly to correct the situation, this is considered landlord negligence, and the victim may be entitled to recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit.
Common examples of injury accidents caused by landlord negligence include, but are not limited to:
- Slip-and-fall accidents on wet, slippery surfaces that should have been cleaned;
- Falling on stairways due to broken stairs or weak banister rails;
- Tripping on obstructions in common walkways that should have been moved;
- Injuries caused by faulty elevators or exposed elevator shafts;
- Injuries caused by weak or deteriorating floorboards;
- Illnesses caused by untreated black mold, untreated pest infestations, etc.
- Debris falling from weak ceilings;
- Injuries sustained by a deck collapse.
Some common injuries in accidents on a landlord's property include head injuries, neck injuries, spinal cord injuries, back injuries, concussion, cuts, abrasions, and soft tissue injuries.
The elderly are especially vulnerable to suffering injuries when they trip and fall over objects on the rental property.
When Is the Landlord Liable for Premises-Related Injuries?
The duty of care extends to the landlord under some clear conditions under California law. If the dangerous condition existed before the tenant took possession.
For example, if the landlord failed to fix a weak floorboard before leasing the property and you are injured while stepping on it.
If the dangerous condition develops after the tenant took possession and with reasonable notification by the tenant.
For example, if you report a broken railing in your house or apartment to your landlord and they fail to fix it in a reasonable amount of time—or you fail to give the landlord access to fix it.
If the dangerous condition exists in a common area for which the landlord is responsible. For example, if a common stairwell has broken steps or the landlord leaves obstruction in the walkway.
Landlords of rental properties must take steps to inspect the property for unsafe conditions before letting a tenant move in and after they move out.
If the landlord fails in their duty of care under any of these situations, they may be legally liable to compensate you for your injuries.
Even in a situation where an independent contractor is responsible for inspection of the property and making necessary repairs, the landlord could still be held liable for a victim's injuries.
When Is the Landlord Not Liable?
The duty of care only extends to the landlord when they have a right to be on the property. Once you rent or lease a property that was in a safe condition when you arrived, you are reasonably responsible for maintaining that safety.
Once you occupy the property, the landlord cannot legally enter your home without reasonable notice to conduct inspections or repairs—so they are no longer automatically responsible for dangerous situations on the premises because they are limited in what they can observe.
Thus, if you notice a dangerous situation inside your home and do not inform the landlord and allow them access to come and fix it, you may not be able to hold the landlord liable for negligence if someone is injured as a result.
Types of Damages You Can Claim in Negligent Landlord Injuries
If you have a legitimate claim against the landlord and you file a personal injury lawsuit for negligent landlord injuries, the damages you may be able to claim include:
- Medical bills for current and future treatment;
- Lost wages and lost earning capacity;
- Pain and suffering, such as compensation for physical pain, emotional distress, etc.
- Loss of life enjoyment, such as how much your life is affected by the injury;
- Loss of consortium;
- Wrongful death.
In rare cases of extreme negligence on the landlord's part, you may be able to receive punitive damages—money awarded by the court as punishment to the defendant.
In addition, if your spouse, domestic partner, or relative on whom you depended was killed due to the accident, you may also be eligible to file a wrongful death claim against the landlord.
The statute of limitations in California to file a lawsuit against a landlord is two years.
If you suffered an injury on a rental property, reach out to our personal injury lawyers to discuss a potential claim to recover financial compensation.
Injury Justice Law Firm is located in Los Angeles County and we serve victims of negligence throughout Southern California.
Call us at 818-781-1570, or fill out our contact form.