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Premises Liability and Rented Property: Are Landlords Liable for Injuries?

Broken Right Foot in Plaster – Fayetteville, NC – Carl L. Britt, Jr, Attorney at Law

Have you been injured on property that’s rented by another party? If so, one important part of securing the compensation you deserve for your injuries is to understand how premises liability relates to rented property. Premises liability is at the heart of who the law holds responsible for injuries and how to build a convincing case for damages. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is Premises Liability?

Premises liability is the area of injury law that decides who is responsible for what happens on a piece of property. Because the owner of a property is considered to have a legal duty to care for the property and those on it, they may be held liable for accidents on the property. However, this liability is not a blanket coverage. It has exceptions as to who is covered and what can be included. 

When Is a Landlord Liable?

The landlord, or owner, of the property can be held liable for injuries whether or not they were present or directly involved in the accident. The basis for this liability is generally whether their stewardship of the property contributed to the incident in some way. 

The most common reason is negligence. To be negligent, the landlord must have failed to act reasonably under the circumstances and an accident was a foreseeable result. Negligence could include failure to keep the staircase properly maintained, failure to fix a hidden flaw underneath the stairs of which the landlord was aware, or failure to include a warning indicator for a common tripping hazard. 

It’s less common that the landlord is accused of acting intentionally or recklessly. These actions have to go beyond simply not acting to fix a problem but rather creating the problem itself. If the landlord digs a hole in the common area of an apartment complex and fails to cover or even warn others about it, their actions could be reckless or even intentional — and damages may be even more punitive. 

When Is a Landlord Not Liable?

While many personal injury cases on rented property can be linked to negligence or similar failure by the landlord, the tenant or even an injured visitor may be responsible for others.

If you’re an injured tenant, you may be deemed responsible for the injury if it occurred due to your own actions, such as misusing communal gym equipment or violating the safety rules for the pool. And if you’re an injured guest, the tenant you’re visiting may first have to prove that they weren’t responsible for your injury. The landlord is liable only when their own actions were at fault. 

Also, a landlord may or may not be liable depending on who is injured. A trespasser without the consent of the owner or tenant may not have the same legal rights as invitees. Similarly, someone who is defined as a licensee is a person who enters the property for their own reasons and isn’t an invited guest. The extent to which licensee are covered by premises liability varies from situation to situation. 

Where Should You Start?

Clearly, establishing when a landlord may be liable for your injuries can be complex. While many people assume that landlords are ultimately responsible for everything that occurs on their property, you will need to legally establish this through premises liability. Otherwise, a tenant or even the visiting party could be held responsible instead. 

Where should you begin, then? As soon as possible after any accident on rented property, you should meet with an experienced personal injury attorney in your state. Carl L. Britt, Jr., Attorney at Law has provided legal assistance to injured North Carolinians for more than 40 years. Call today to discuss your case and learn more about how to seek the financial damages you need right now. 

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