- June 6, 2022
- Personal Injury Law
When is a Landlord Responsible for Tenant Injury?
North Carolina law requires landlords to keep residential premises and common areas in a safe condition for tenants. In other words, landlords must do whatever is necessary, including making repairs, to make sure the premises are in a safe and habitable condition.
This “duty” of ordinary care of a landlord also extends to maintaining in good and safe working order all electrical, heating, air conditioning, plumbing, sanitary, ventilating, and appliances supplied, or required to be supplied, by the landlord. If any of these items are not in good and safe working order, then they must be promptly repaired by the landlord absent any agreement to the contrary.
A landlord is negligent and responsible for a tenant’s injury when a landlord fails to maintain the premises in a fit and habitable condition and a tenant suffers an injury. When a landlord’s conduct falls below the standard of ordinary care, the landlord is considered to be negligent.
Can I Bring a Lawsuit Against my Landlord for an Injury?
If you are injured on your landlord’s property due to their negligence, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against your landlord and sue them for damages. To succeed in a lawsuit against a landlord for injuries, you will need to prove the following five things:
- First, you must be a tenant under a rental agreement for a residence that is leased from the defendant landlord.
- Second, there was an unsafe condition that existed on the premises, which includes the residence and the common areas made available for your use as the tenant.
- Third, the landlord knew or should have known about the existence of the unsafe condition since landlords have a duty to make reasonable inspections of their premises and comply with current building and housing codes.
- Fourth, the landlord failed to exercise reasonable care to correct or remove the unsafe condition. This is not a duty to warn tenants of unfit conditions, but, rather, it’s a duty to fix unfit conditions.
- Fifth, the failure of the duty to exercise reasonable care to remedy the unsafe condition was the proximate cause of the tenant’s injuries. This doesn’t mean that the landlord’s negligence was the only cause of the injury, but that the landlord’s negligence was the main cause of the injury.
For example, if you were injured in a fall due to a loose handrail on your porch, you could sue your landlord if they were aware of the problem but did not repair it. If your landlord knew or should have known about the hazard that caused your injury and the landlord failed to take reasonable steps to fix it, then you may be able to bring a lawsuit against your landlord for injuries.
How Do I Give My Landlord Notice of Needed Repair?
If you are a tenant and you need to give your landlord notice that repair is needed, the following are a few things you can do to prove you notified the landlord properly:
- Check your lease agreement to see if it has a section on repairs and maintenance. This section will usually state how many days the tenant has to notify the landlord of a needed repair.
- Document all communication with your landlord, whether it is in person, by phone, or via email or text message. Keeping a paper trail will help to prove that you did indeed inform your landlord of the repair need.
- Ask a neighbor or friend to serve as a witness, who can attest to the fact that you told the landlord about the issue.
The Landlord Said I Contributed to My Own Injuries
Just as North Carolina law imposes a duty of ordinary care on landlords to not be negligent, a tenant cannot contribute to their own injuries while on the premises and common areas of the rented property. In other words, the law places upon a tenant the duty to avoid known dangers and protect themselves from injury.
For example, if a landlord is aware of a hole in the floor and fails to repair it, and a tenant falls in the hole and is injured, the landlord would likely be liable for the tenant’s injuries. However, if the tenant was aware of the hole and had a reasonable choice or option to avoid the danger, but failed to do so, the landlord could claim that the tenant was negligent and contributed to their own injuries.
In landlord-tenant cases of contributory negligence, the landlord has the burden to prove that the tenant’s negligence was the proximate cause of their injuries.
What Types of Injuries Can Landlords Be Held Liable For?
Unfortunately, many tenants who live in apartments or homes that have fallen into disrepair have accidents that leave them with serious injuries.
Typical injuries attributable to a landlord’s negligence include:
- Sprains, strains, broken bones, or head injuries from falling on broken stairs, on concrete, or on other types of flooring or paving
- Smoke inhalation from improperly maintained or installed smoke detectors
- Drowning injuries in swimming pools that were not properly fenced in
- Injuries from defective appliances
- Gas leaks
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Injuries or death from a fire.
It’s important for landlords to take steps to ensure their properties are safe and free from hazards since some neck and back injuries can leave victims unable to work or care for their families while they heal, which often leads to difficulties in paying rent. These injuries can cause chronic pain or other permanent disabilities that drastically affect the quality of life.
Can I Sue My Landlord if I’m Injured on Their Property?
Get an Answer from an Experienced Premises Liability Attorney
Injured people often find it difficult to handle premises liability cases on their own. Proving that your landlord knew or should have known about the existence of an unsafe or hazardous condition and then proving that your injuries were caused by the landlord’s failure to make the needed repairs are necessary elements when building a strong case.
Cases that involve injuries like broken bones or head injuries are even more complicated. With landlord-tenant injuries, you need to prioritize your recovery, which is difficult when medical providers and creditors need to be paid and your funds are limited while you are out of work.
If you are wondering, can I sue my landlord if I’m injured on their property, it is important to speak with an experienced premises liability lawyer who can help you understand your rights and options.
By seeking the counsel of the trial lawyers at Lakota R. Denton, PA, you can get the help you need now and the compensation you deserve when you get better.
Whether your injury just happened, you’re receiving treatment, or you are ready to make a claim against your landlord’s insurance company, we’re ready to help. Call us today at 828-333-5996 or contact us online to schedule a meeting with Lakota R. Denton, PA.
We will assess your case and advise you on what you can expect at each stage of the process of filing a claim. We can investigate your claim and speak to medical debt collectors on your behalf. Our initial consultations are always free.