Can A Landlord Be Held Liable For Injuries To A Tenant?
When a tenant gets hurt in a rental property, it's possible for the landlord to be held responsible for the cost of healthcare and other issues caused by the injury. However, not every injury that happens on a rental property is an injury that the landlord is liable for.
Can a landlord be held liable for injuries to a tenant? And furthermore, when exactly are they liable? Take a closer look at personal injury liability as it applies to rental properties. This information can help you determine whether or not to file a claim or better protect yourself from unreasonable claims.
When Is A Landlord Held Liable For Tenant Injuries?
Generally speaking, landlords are only responsible for tenants' injuries if the injury was directly caused by actions taken by the landlord. In some cases, that action could actually be inaction.
Tenant injuries caused by an issue that could have reasonably been prevented or foreseen as a problem may be considered the landlord's responsibility. This is because the injury is caused by landlord negligence, and part of a landlord's duties is to ensure the rental property is safe and habitable. To ensure that tenant's remain protected while avoiding any legal action, many landlords ask their tenants to take out renters insurance.
To get a better idea of what this looks like in action, let's break down the aspects required to prove negligence in court. If a landlord's actions (or inaction) meets the following criteria, a tenant may be able to prove a personal injury claim.
Repairing Dangerous Conditions
Landlords are responsible for maintaining the condition of some aspects of a property, such as the stairs or walkways in common areas. If a tenant injury is caused by a broken walkway that the landlord neglected to repair, the landlord may be liable for the injury.
Legally, landlords are not allowed to hide dangerous conditions from their tenants. If a landlord chooses to hide a danger and then an unaware tenant is injured, the landlord is likely to be liable for that injury.
Another aspect that the courts will evaluate is whether or not the accident was foreseeable due to the conditions of the house. For example, most people would understand that a broken stair could cause a serious injury. Landlords are responsible for taking reasonable steps to prevent injury and provide alternate solutions.
On the flip side, sometimes accidents have no warning. Freak accidents caused by unpredictable conditions are not the responsibility of the landlord, and the landlord is unlikely to be held liable in such situations.
Balancing The Risk Of Harm
Courts will sometimes determine a landlord's negligence based on whether or not they could have easily resolved the situation. For example, putting up a temporary fence to prevent tenants from tripping on a broken walkway can do a lot to prevent serious injury.
Ask yourself this question: could the landlord have feasibly reduced the danger of the situation that caused an injury? If so, they may be held liable for the injury.
For serious repairs such as a deck that is completely unsafe, it is the landlord's responsibility to block off and repair that issue immediately. If they do not and an injury is caused, there is no doubt that the landlord will have some sort of responsibility in the situation.
Landlords cannot prevent every possible accident at their rental properties, but they can take reasonable steps to prevent serious injury from happening. Accidents can be caused by many different factors, and it is impossible to eliminate all risks.
Expecting a landlord to be able to do that is ridiculous. Instead, landlords are expected to take reasonable steps to prevent tenant injuries. If landlords take reasonable action to regularly repair and inspect their properties but an injury still occurs, they may not be held liable for that injury.
State Laws Vary
When considering whether or not a landlord may be held liable for a personal injury, it is important to remember that state laws on landlord responsibility vary. For example, some states may use a comparative fault method to determine liability, while others may rely on contributory fault. In San Diego, under California state law, landlords and building owners can be held liable for injuries suffered on their property, if the injury was due to property negligence.
Ultimately however ruling on any particular injury situation may be different in one state than in another. The best way to understand this process for your area is to check the local landlord-tenant laws as well as personal liability claim filing rules.
Understand The Personal Injury Claim Process
In case you become involved in a personal injury claim situation, it's important to understand what the filing process looks like. Whether you are a tenant or a landlord in this situation, having this information will help you to make better decisions throughout the entire process.
Remember: a key part of the personal injury claim process is determining fault. If landlord fault cannot be proven, then it is not possible to hold a landlord liable for tenant injuries.