Fell through a rotten walkway...

by Richard
(Melrose, FL)

I fell through a rotten wooden walkway that leads to the pool. I even previously offered to help repair the walkway if I was provided the materials to do so, but they were not provided. I went as far as going in my personal car to get old boards my landlord had. I was provided about 1/10 of the material needed to repair the walkway.

When I fell through the walkway, it caused a severe injury to my back. I have incurred thousands of dollars in medical claims and may have to deal with the pain for the remainder of my life.

The rental property where I live is not kept up. We have exposed electrical wiring approx 5 feet from a swimming pool full of water. We have many damaged electrical outlets in the property, some without insulation around the hot wires. An a/c unit was replaced after leaking into the floor for years, and the repair men noticed large amounts of mold under the floor.

All water faucets outside have no water, and 2/3 of the house has no outside water, so in the event of fire there is nothing to extinguish the blaze. The back yard pool area has no lighting whatsoever. It is pitch dark and is a safety and security hazard.

What can be done about this? How can I get my medical bills paid for? Am I entitled to compensation for the pain I may have to deal with for the rest of my life? Thank you for any information you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Fell through a rotten walkway...":

Richard (Melrose, FL):

The first answer which comes to mind is...MOVE!

Otherwise, there are at least two important legal issues here. The first is Premises Liability, and the second is Mitigation of Damages.

Property owners are subject to the legal doctrine of premises liability. In its basic form, this means a property owner has a legal "duty of care" to do everything within reason to make sure his or her property is free from dangerous defects which could cause undue harm or injury to tenants, and others legally upon the property.

To be liable, a property owner must:

- Have knowledge of the defect

- Have had a reasonable about of time and resources to "cure" (repair, replace or remove) the defect

- Have failed to cure the defect

- As a result of the failure, a tenant must have been injured

From the facts you present, it appears the landlord had knowledge of the defective walkway and failed to repair it. As a result, you were injured. In that regard, the property owner should be liable for your medical bills and related costs.

However, the law also requires persons who are aware of dangerous defects to avoid them. In other words, you knew the walkway was dangerous and therefore you shouldn't have walked on it.

This is akin to a person in a grocery store seeing water spilled on the floor and notifying the manager. After doing so, the person walked through the water, slipped and was injured. The person had a duty to avoid the danger, and didn't. As a result, it's likely the grocery store owner may not be fully liable.

In your case, if the landlord repaired the walkway, and you had a reasonable belief the walkway was safe, and after walking on it it collapsed and you were injured, you would have the basis for a personal injury claim.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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