Visitor Question

Ice Buildup on Stairs Causes Fall…

Submitted By: George (Puyallup, WA, USA)

I live on the second floor of an apartment building.

The stairs leading to the ground floor are built on the outside of the building and are made of stone.

We have had snow and ice over the last few days. Last night I took my dogs out for a walk and when I stepped down a few steps I slipped on ice buildup and fell down the flight of stairs (12-15 steps).

Fortunately I did not break my neck. I am very sore on my right hip and knee, and have bruising on my hip and cuts on my hands from where I was trying to stop myself while falling. We have an emergency nurse the lives next door that checked me out for immediate injury.

I slept on it overnight and this morning I am very sore. I took my dogs out again this morning and my dog (100lbs) fell down the stairs due to the ice buildup.

I’d like to know if there is any legal recourse against the apartment building management and owners for not trying to ensure the safety of the residents on the second floor due to the ice buildup? Any options you can give would be appreciated, thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear George,

The apartment management and ownership (the landlord) have a duty to their tenants to make the premises “habitable”. That duty though is limited regarding weather conditions.

If the landlord took all reasonable action to make sure the ice was treated, then their liability would be limited to the methods they used to “de-ice” the steps and other common areas of the property, especially those areas, including steps, parking lots, and other areas where tenants and their guests walked.

If the weather was consistently rainy, freezing, and icy, and if the landlord did all she could to “salt” or otherwise melt the ice, then that is all the courts could ask for. The courts would not expect the landlord to stand by each step continuing to put down salt or other methods of ice melt continuously.

In the alternative, if the landlord ignored the weather and failed to take reasonable action to de-ice the steps then you would have the beginnings of a legal claim.

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

Best of luck,

Published: January 19, 2012

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