There are millions of injuries that occur at home in the United States every year, and that’s on stairs alone. The National Safety Council Injury Facts 2017 report states more than 146,500 people died from accidental injury-related deaths in 2015. Some of the top types of accidents at home causing injuries include:
- Falls, which is the number one cause of unintentional-injury-related death for those ages 65 years and older
- Fires and burns, which caused 2,646 deaths in 2015
- Drowning, which is the number one cause of unintentional-injury-related death for children ages 1 to 4
These are just three causes of serious injury and death at home, which can be preventable with proper safety precautions. In cases where injuries or deaths occur while someone is living in a rental home, the landlord’s negligence may have been the main factor causing the hazard. Premises liability involves the landlord’s responsibility for maintaining a safe environment for the tenant or visitor.
Here is what to know about who is to blame for serious personal injuries and deaths occurring at rental homes.
One of the clearest ways to affirm a landlord is likely liable for a serious injury or accident on their property is when they are breaking the law in how they maintain the property.
For example, in Alabama, electrically powered smoke alarms must be placed outside sleeping areas and in each sleeping room. There must also be a smoke alarm on every floor of a structure. If a tenant is injured by a fire or burn, and the landlord failed to install and maintain smoke alarms per Alabama law, the landlord may be deemed negligent in maintaining the property.
Some other areas that landlords likely need to provide proper upkeep for in order to stay legal include:
- There must be prevention for water and gas leaks, and properties should be inspected for signs of them.
- Electrical wires, circuits and sockets must be properly insulated.
- Building repairs must thoroughly be executed, including damage to stairs, flooring and roofing.
- Presence of asbestos in the building must be brought to the attention of tenants, because asbestos exposure is a cause of mesothelioma.
It is up to landlords to also conduct regular maintenance checks to ensure all home features are safely working.
Types of Accidents that May Involve Premises Liability
Negligence of a landlord in properly maintaining the home features mentioned may result in serious injuries and accidents like these.
- Cancer or respiratory problems from asbestos or dangerous gas
- Burns and smoke inhalation from fires
- Broken bones and fractures from slip and fall accidents
- Head injuries due to improperly secured objects on a roof or ceiling
- Drowning in a pool that is not secured by a fence
- Electrical shock due to improperly maintained appliances
- Lacerations or fractures from improperly maintained fences
Generally, a landlord will not be deemed negligent for accidents when a tenant causes harm to themselves, using their own objects within a home. If a tenant acts recklessly or irresponsibly in relation to the property, landlord negligence will be more difficult to prove.
In order to be deemed negligent, the landlord must have failed to exercise reasonable care in maintenance of the property, and the injuries must have been foreseeable. To avoid a potential premises liability lawsuit, a landlord can take the following steps to stay protected.
- Create clear repair and maintenance expectation in the rental agreement.
- Use a written checklist to maintain property.
- Ask tenants to report any safety issues or elements in need of repair immediately.
- Give tenants their own checklist, so they monitor repairs, too.
- Document all tenant repair requests.
- Fix any repairs, and maintain the property so it is safe to inhabit.
- Document all repairs.
It is in the best interest of property owners to cover their bases through clear rental agreements and proactive maintenance. If a safety issue comes up, and a landlord waits even a few hours to fix a dangerous problem, the result could be a serious injury, death and/or a costly lawsuit.
Contact a Premises Liability Lawyer If You’re Seriously Injured
Both landlords and tenants have certain rights in regards to how a property is used and what happens on a property. For tenants who are seriously injured due to landlord negligence in maintenance of the property, it is imperative to contact a Birmingham premises liability attorney as soon as possible.
The statute of limitations limits the time frame in which to file a premises liability claim. Contact Pittman, Dutton & Hellums online or at (205) 322-8880 for a free consultation on how we may be able to help.