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Is Your Landlord Liable for Your Injuries on His Property?

woman injured broken arm

The answer to this question, like so many others in the legal arena, is “it depends.” The simple fact that your injury occurred on your landlord’s property — or property owned by any other person, for that matter — does not automatically confer responsibility for your harm on the property owner. There must be more to the situation. Specifically, there must be a “causal link” between the property and your injury. In other words, the property had to have caused your injury despite your exercise of reasonable care.

We see this scenario often in cases where a property has a hidden hazard that catches a visitor unaware and causes a slip and fall or a trip and fall. There could be a loose floor tile, a pothole, or an abrupt change in level that a person exercising reasonable care doesn’t notice and trips over. In such cases, the injured party must show the hazard caused the injury and:

  • The hazard was hidden — When a hazard is “open and obvious,” the victim has a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid it. With a readily apparent hazard, a court could rule the fall was the victim’s own fault, unless there was no reasonable way to avoid the hazard.
  • The landlord knew or should have known about the hazard — A landlord has a duty to be reasonable about discovering dangerous conditions on the property. The hazard cannot be so well hidden that a diligent landlord would have missed it.
  • The landlord should have cured the hazard — The court looks at factors such as notice and timing to judge whether a landlord has been reasonable. If tenants complained about the hazard and enough time had elapsed without the landlord acting to repair the problem, the landlord could be found unreasonable.

If a visitor proves all these elements, the landlord would be liable for the injury. However, when the injured party is a tenant, the situation is a little more complicated. The tenant, after all, has knowledge of the property and often has responsibility for maintaining it. The court might ask:

  • Did the tenant know about the hazard?
  • Did the tenant notify the landlord of the hazard?
  • Did the tenant have the ability and/or the duty to perform maintenance on this type of hazards?

If the tenant knew the hazard existed but never bothered to tell the landlord, and the tenant could have repaired the problem but didn’t, a court could find the tenant was unreasonable. In such a case, the landlord’s responsibility for the injury could be reduced in proportion to the tenant’s responsibility, or the tenant could be barred completely from collecting damages from the landlord.

Premises liability accidents often make for complex legal cases. If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident in Bergen County or anywhere in New Jersey, Seigel Law is ready to help. Contact us online or call 201.444.4000 today for a free consultation and case evaluation.

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    By Teresa R Perez - January, 2018

    I have had a great experience thus far. The personal injury process is stressful and they have been helpful and courteous in getting me the right referrals. I was injured while visiting NJ and live in another state, my case is not an easy one but they are working diligently to help. I appreciate the personalized attention and highly recommend this firm.

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    The law office was great with my back and neck injury. They directed me to the right doctors and got me a huge settlement. Being a single mom, it help pay off all my debt and bills. Me and my kids can have a bill free christmas, with plenty of food and happiness, stress free. They are the best ever and I would highly recommend them to anyone rich or poor, who has been in an accident and need legal help...

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    After the misfortune of suffering an injury, I had the good fortune to choose Seigel Law to represent me. During my initial meeting with Jan Seigel, I found him to be extremely confident and reassuring---he totally put me at ease. I was represented by Mark Mc Bratney---an EXCELLENT attorney. He was supportive and professional through the entire process, and provided an excellent outcome for my case.

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    Honest, trustworthy and very straight forward. In unvarnished truth Jonas Siegel will tell you exactly where you stand and what direction you should go. Jonas has tenacity coupled with a degree of tenderness, but never losing site of the end goal, which is to protect, defend and have the best outcome for his clients. I defenetly recoment this law firm. Thanks for helping me out in my case.

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    I'd like to thank everyone at segal law for the amazing experience they provided me. From the moment I stepped in to the end of the case , segal and his team delivered exactly what they promised. I couldn't have received any better treatment from a law firm. Any concerns, questions or problems I had were addressed and dealt with accordingly...

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