When you’re renting a home, whether it’s an apartment or a house, your landlord or the property owner has to ensure it’s safe enough for you to live in – but sometimes, landlords try to skimp on repairs or cut corners when they shouldn’t… and tenants get injured.
Are Landlords Responsible to Prevent Personal Injuries?
Tenants have the right to habitable property. In fact, Texas has laws that require landlords to repair conditions that affect a tenant’s physical health or safety. When you notify your landlord that there’s a problem, he or she must repair it in a timely manner or face serious consequences – and if your landlord knows that there’s a problem and he or she fails to fix it before you’re injured, you could be eligible to file a lawsuit.
The Landlord’s Duty to Repair or Remedy
Under Texas law, landlords have a “duty to repair or remedy” situations that affect your health or safety. The law says that the only time a landlord isn’t responsible for repairing problems is when you, one of your family members or guests, or another lawful occupant caused the condition. For example, if one of your guests was skateboarding down the stair railing inside the house and it snapped off, the landlord is not responsible for your injuries – but if you were simply walking down the steps, reached for the railing and it fell off as soon as you leaned on it, causing you to tumble down the stairs, your landlord could be liable.
Unsafe Conditions at a Rental Property
Your landlord could be responsible – as could another landlord if you’re injured on someone else’s property – for unsafe conditions such as:
- Broken steps
- Missing handrails
- Uneven flooring
- Standing water from broken appliances
- Toxic mold growth
- Uneven pavement outside the building or in parking areas
Property owners definitely owe a certain duty of care to their tenants and guests on the property. That includes attempting to prevent personal injury wherever possible.
What Are Your Options if You’re Injured on a Rental Property?
Many people are injured in slip and fall accidents on rental properties, but many other types of injuries are also possible – including pedestrian accidents when pathways and roadways are improperly marked or maintained.
If you’ve been injured by your landlord’s negligence or carelessness, you could be entitled to file a lawsuit. Your first step is contacting a personal injury attorney who understands landlords’ responsibilities to tenants.
What Information Will a Personal Injury Attorney Need?
When you consult with a lawyer, he’ll most likely ask you a series of questions to determine whether your landlord is responsible for your injuries. He may ask you:
- Whether you notified your landlord of the problem (or whether someone else did)
- Whether the landlord should have reasonably known there was an issue
- How often you spoke to your landlord, including whether you’ve spoken to him or her since your accident
- What circumstances led up to your injuries
- Who was around when you were injured
- Whether anyone helped you after your injury
- Whether you made any statements or wrote down what happened during the incident
- What kinds of medical treatment you’ve received, as well as what your future medical treatments may entail
- Whether you’ve missed work as a result of your injuries, as well as when your doctor believes you’ll be able to return to work (if at all)
When you provide your attorney with all the information you have, he’ll conduct his own investigation, as well. Your lawyer may visit the site of your accident to determine whether the landlord appears to have been negligent in repairs and remedies, and he may talk to witnesses to find out how other people perceived what happened.
Filing a Lawsuit When Your Landlord Fails in the Duty to Keep You Safe
If your landlord appears to be responsible for your injuries, your attorney may encourage you to file a lawsuit. You could be eligible for financial compensation for what you’ve been through. The money you receive can go toward:
- Paying your medical bills
- Paying for medication
- Making up for your lost wages at work
- Compensating you for pain and suffering
Payments of this type are known as compensatory damages. They’re designed to make up for what happened to you.
However, you could also win punitive damages if your case goes to trial. These types of payments are designed to punish bad actors and prevent them – and others – from being negligent in order to protect other people in the future.
Proving Fault When Your Landlord is Responsible for Your Safety
In cases like these, your attorney will be responsible for proving one or more of the following things:
- Your landlord failed to maintain the property
- Your landlord created unsafe conditions that caused your injuries
- Your landlord knew about the unsafe conditions but failed to alert you or your guests
What About Settling Out of Court?
It’s worth noting that most cases like these actually settle before they go to court, though. When a case settles, it means that both sides – the injured victim and the person or company responsible for the victim’s injuries – are able to reach an agreement on a fair amount of compensation. Many landlords don’t want to go to court; if they do, they’ll get bad publicity, which could result in fewer people wanting to rent from them in the future.
Should You Talk to a Lawyer About Your Landlord’s Responsibility to Keep You Safe?
If you were injured because of something your landlord failed to do to keep you safe, and it was your landlord’s responsibility to do so, you may want to talk to an attorney about your situation. Contact us for a free case review today.