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When is a Landlord Liable for a Tenant’s Injuries?

When is a Landlord Liable for a Tenant’s Injuries

Millions of people in the Bay Area live in rental units. They live in homes someone else is supposed to maintain and repair, and go back and forth through common areas that should be kept safe. But when a landlords’ negligence or neglect causes may injuries a tenant can sue.

If you are a tenant who’s severely injured because of your landlord’s negligence, contact Callaway & Wolf at 415-541-0300 to schedule a free case evaluation as soon as possible. Get the medical attention you need, then learn more about your rights to compensation and how to protect them.

There were about 1.1 million rental housing units in the Bay Area, according to the 2010 census, making up nearly 44% of all available housing. The average rent for a 740 square foot apartment in San Francisco is $3,230 per month by one estimate, with 87% of units costing more than $2,000. Rents are also high in most other Bay Area cities.  You should be safe when you’re paying that much money, shouldn’t you?

California Premises Liability Law

The state’s premises liability laws cover a situation where a tenant is injured in their apartment or on or in the property’s public areas. Like other areas of law, the facts of each case must be examined. The determination of liability is driven by the facts of your accident, and guided by applicable laws. If you suffer an injury, document what happened and photograph or video the conditions. This kind of evidence can be critical to a successful outcome.

Before giving you possession of your apartment or rented house (or when your lease is renewed), your landlord must do a reasonable inspection of the property, looking for unsafe conditions. These conditions must be repaired before you take possession. The landlord could also be responsible for injuries caused by dangerous conditions that should’ve been discovered but weren’t found or repaired.

After taking possession, your landlord doesn’t have the right to enter your premises giving you notice (except in limited circumstances), so your landlord usually won’t be accountable for dangerous conditions in your unit after you move in unless the landlord knows about it. Liability for injuries due to unsafe common areas applies if the landlord knew about it, or the condition would’ve been found during a reasonable, periodic inspection.

What the landlord knew and when they knew it are critical issues in these cases. Report problems whether they’re in your apartment or a common area. Your lease may spell out how you should contact your landlord if something is hazardous and needs repair. If so, follow it. If there is or isn’t a method of reporting problems, document what you say, to whom, and when. Save emails and text messages to and from your landlord. Your landlord has a reasonable period of time to find dangerous conditions and fix them to avoid liability.

Conditions that May Lead to Injuries

Some of the things in and around your apartment that may cause your injury include:

  • Stairs and railings
  • Walkways, driveways, and garages
  • Decks and balconies
  • Floors
  • Electrical problems that could cause shocks or fires
  • Fires caused by dangerous conditions and problems escaping due to malfunctioning or nonexistent smoke detectors and fire sprinklers
  • Lead paint
  • Severe mold
  • Onsite playgrounds
  • Crime if the landlord didn’t use reasonable care to protect you against foreseeable criminal acts by others
  • Dog bites by another tenant’s dog if the landlord knew it lived on the property and has dangerous propensities
  • Injures caused by another tenant, if the landlord knew that the tenant was dangerous

Landlords can also be liable when they fail to do a repair or give a warning properly. For example, you might report a handrail in a staircase is loose. If the repairs are such that it looks fixed, but to prevent falling, you grab it and pull it off the wall, fall, and injure yourself, the landlord should be found liable.

What You May Be Able to Recover

If your claim is successful, you may get compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Lost wages
  • Medical bills
  • Disability and disfigurement
  • Damage to personal property

There’s a two-year statute of limitations (the deadline from the injury to file a lawsuit) for these cases. Don’t waste time. Contact us as soon as you can after your injury.

Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys Can Make a Difference in Your Case

If you’re a severely injured tenant because of your landlord’s negligence, Callaway & Wolf can help. Your initial consultation will be free, and we work on a contingency fee basis, so you won’t pay us unless your case is successful.

Call us today at 415-541-0300 to schedule a consultation at our San Francisco or Oakland office to talk about your case, how California law may apply, and how we can help you recover the compensation you deserve.

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