If you have ever lived in an apartment complex, you have probably had your fair share of complaints. It is likely that you have had a dispute over your lease with apartment management. Maybe your apartment appliances were not repaired in a timely manner. Perhaps, you had inconsiderate or noisy neighbors. When over 100 people live in one place that is run by one management team, such issues are generally unavoidable. These minor complaints, while annoying, can be addressed and handled relatively quickly. With that said, not all apartment incidents can be resolved so painlessly. Specifically, when one suffers personal injuries at an apartment complex, the question of liability does not always have an easy answer. However, simply because the question may be difficult does not mean you should give up on your rights to reasonable recovery when someone else is responsible for your injuries. At Torgenson Law, we handle all types of injury cases, including those that arise at apartment complexes. For your benefit, here is some helpful information to remember if you suffer an injury at an apartment complex.
- What are the Landlord’s Duties?
Like any property owner, a landlord has a duty maintain the rental property and its surrounding common areas in a safe manner. In short, this means that the landlord is responsible for avoiding or repairing unreasonably dangerous conditions in all areas outside of individual apartment units such as the leasing office, the pool, stairwells, and sidewalks. The landlord is also responsible for the flooring, walls, and any light fixtures that are within an apartment. The landlord has a duty to act reasonably in responding complaints of disrepair and correcting any unreasonably dangerous conditions that he or she knows or should have known about. If the landlord breaches these duties, and a tenant or a visitor suffers personal injuries, the landlord is liable.
- Can a Tenant be Liable for a Guest’s Personal Injuries?
The short answer is yes. The tenant may be responsible for injuries caused within his or her own apartment. Similar to the landlord, the tenant must maintain his apartment space in a reasonably safe manner. However, the tenant’s duties are limited to things that he or she brings into his own apartment such as furniture or picture frames. For example, if a tenant has a rug that is prone to tripping the tenant and his guests, the tenant will be liable if he or she does not remedy that risk of harm and someone later suffers injuries. If you are injured in a tenant’s apartment unit, you will want to determine if he or she has purchased renter’s insurance or has any other liability coverage.
- What are the Defenses Available to a Negligent Landlord or Tenant?
A defendant in an apartment complex injury will raise the same defenses available in all premises liability cases. First, it may argue that the injured party was at fault for his or her injuries by using the property in an improper or negligent manner (i.e. running near the pool). Second, a landlord may contend that he did not have notice of the dangerous condition. If he did not know or could not have known of the unreasonably dangerous condition, he may be absolved of liability. Finally, the defendant may argue that the condition was open and obvious to the injured party. In essence, they are arguing that you would have avoided your injuries with proper care and attention.
- What Can You Do to Protect Yourself and Others from Apartment Injuries?
In any premises liability case, the injured party has the burden to prove that the property owner had notice of the unreasonably dangerous condition. Thus, it is always useful to document and report any dangerous conditions to those who are responsible for maintaining the property. If they fail to repair those conditions and someone is injured, they will be liable. Additionally, photographs can show that the property truly was in an unreasonably dangerous condition. Steps like these can go a long way in protecting yourself and others from harm. Ideally, the property owner will make the necessary repairs to relieve the property of the unreasonably dangerous condition. However, if he or she fails to do so, they will be held responsible for any subsequent injuries.
All of us have likely dealt with landlord-tenant disputes in the past. While frustrating, those quarrels do not compare to the challenges that face personal injury victims. It truly is a battle to recover the compensation you deserve. That is why you need an experienced legal team that will fight for your personal injury rights. If you or a loved one is injured at an apartment complex or on any other property, call Torgenson Law at (602) 759-0012.