We’ve all been through a lot of changes in the two years. One of those changes has been spending a lot more time in our homes, and with that comes the increased possibility of becoming injured while in your home. If you are lucky, your at-home injury is nothing more serious than a stubbed toe. However, if your injury is very serious, you may be wondering: can you sue your landlord for an injury that happened in a home you rent from them?
The answer to that is… it depends.
Were you in your own unit?
This is where things get somewhat tricky. Cases where the injury happened inside your own unit are generally quite difficult because this area is considered your own responsibility. If the injury was the result of specific conditions in your apartment or rented house, the landlord can easily claim that they had no way of knowing about the conditions in question or that they were your own job to maintain.
There are some exceptions: if conditions from another unit or common areas are affecting you while you are in your own unit (for instance, if something falls through your ceiling from the above unit onto you), the landlord has less room to make the above argument. However, these cases are still, for the most part, extremely difficult and often not worth the costs of the case.
Were you in a common space?
If you were in a space that is common to residents of your building, that is a very different scenario, and it is likely that you have a good case. It is the responsibility of the property owner to maintain these areas, so if a tenant is injured, for instance, by a dilapidated stairway or a nail sticking out in the hallway, liability is fairly clear.
Was there constructive notice?
Constructive notice means that one can reasonably assume that someone was aware of a particular condition. For instance, if a stairway has become dilapidated over a period of several years, the property owner cannot reasonably claim that they were unaware of this when a tenant inevitably becomes injured on that stairway.
Lack of constructive notice is what often makes cases like this complex and difficult, so make sure to be aware of conditions in and around your rented home, and document them if you think they are potentially dangerous.
What should you do?
If you are a renter who has been injured inside your home, the first and most important two things you must do are to seek the appropriate medical attention and to document the conditions that injured you. Seek emergency services, if necessary, and ask someone you trust to take pictures of the area where you were injured. These will help remove some of the ambiguity from your case.
The next thing to do is seek a consultation from a qualified attorney. As cases like these can often involve difficulties and grey areas, an attorney will be the best person to tell you if you have a legal case worth pursuing.
We at the Law Office of Steven A. Sigmond have dealt with cases like this before, and we are happy to answer your questions. You can reach out to us at (312) 258-8188 or at siglaw.com for a free consultation.