When is a Landlord Liable for a Slip and Fall Accident?
Owners of property need to be responsible with certain aspects of their building and land in order to ensure that everyone who sets foot on the property is as safe as possible. However, accidents happen and the chances of these accidents occurring can be increased by negligent landlords. If you or one of your visitors slips and falls on property you are renting, can your landlord be held liable for any injuries?
The key factor in determining if a landlord is liable in a slip and fall case is negligence. If it can be proven that the landlord was negligent, that the landlord was aware of the hazard and had a reasonable amount of time to fix it, then the landlord can be seen as liable for injuries it causes.
Location of Slip
You’re responsible for notifying your landlord of any problematic or dangerous conditions that occur specifically in your apartment or house. If water from a leaky pipe creates slippery conditions on your floor and you slip, the liability of the landlord depends on whether the landlord knew of the leak and had ample time to fix it. If they knew about the leak and had plenty of time to fix it but failed to do so, they could be seen as liable. Keep in mind, however, that the tenant may be held equally at fault in some circumstances. The tenant was likely the first to know about the leak, allowing them to avoid it or put temporary fixes in place to help keep the area safe such as a bucket to catch the water or a few towels to sop up the water and make for a viable dry pathway.
If the slip occurred outside of the apartment, such as out in the parking lot, in the hallway or in the lobby, then the landlord will need to be on the premises or close by most of the time. They will need to have known about the slippery conditions and they will need to have had ample time to warn others and rectify the problem.
Contracts and Leases
A landlord may live far away from the premises or they may hold a lease or contract with the tenant that outlines responsibility when it comes to slippery conditions. For example, a landlord will be liable for slips on stairs if the stairs are cracking, broken and dangerous as it’s their responsibility to take care of the building through their contract with the tenant. However, there may be clauses in contracts and leases explaining that the tenant is responsible for shoveling snow, cleaning up ice or wiping up spills.
Making the Case
The best thing you can do to make any slip and fall case strong against a liable landlord is properly documenting the situation. Take pictures of the area of the fall, the conditions that caused the fall, any injuries that occurred due to the fall and the clothes you were wearing. Write down exactly what happened and any related information as soon as possible to help keep your memory of the incident as fresh as possible. Slip and fall cases can be difficult to make, but the more evidence that you have the stronger your case will be.