Injured renting a room in a home without a contract...

by Anonymous

I just started renting a room in a 3 bedroom house about 2 months ago. I never signed any type of rental agreement stating that I was or wasn't covered under any type of homeowners, renters or liability insurance.

On April 14th I was sitting in the backyard when frame work from an old awning detached from the edge of the roof and came crashing down on my head. I was hit with three 2x4 pieces of wood. The result from this accident is a concussion and post concussion syndrome (which I'm still dealing with).

His insurance company just told me that they are not liable and will not pay out for my medical bills because I am a resident. Shouldn't there be a renter's policy in place since he is renting out 2 of his 3 bedrooms? And if not, should there have been a paper stating any injury that occurs while I am staying there is not the homeowners responsibility, like "enter at your own risk"?

Also, they said because he was not placed on report by either tenant to fix it that he didn't know about it. Well after the accident I found out it has fallen a few times in the past already. Both the previous tenant before me and a friend that comes over to see my other roommate have mentioned the framework of the awning and how it was going to collapse.

So even though it wasn't mentioned by me, he was still aware that the wood was rotting and could fall. I was never warned not to sit in the patio furniture because it wasn't safe.

It has now been two and half weeks since the accident and I am still experiencing symptoms of PCS. Some more serious than the vision loss in my right eye. I can still see out of it but it is very blurry and wouldn't be able to see without my left eye. Before the accident I had 20/20 vision. When the doctor did the eye test I am now 40/20. There is no guarantee that it will go back to normal.

Do I have a valid case? How do I pursue this? What is the homeowner and his insurance company's responsibility in this situation? Thank you for any information you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Injured renting a room in a home without a contract...":

Anonymous (Arizona):

The homeowner's insurance company can refuse to cover you as a person dwelling (living) on the property. However, you are not out of options. Property owners have what's referred to as a legal "duty of care" to do everything reasonably possible to protect their tenants from undue harm and injury.

In this case, it appears the property owner may have breached that duty by being negligent. As a result, you appear to have the basis of a personal injury claim against the property owner.

To succeed in a personal injury negligence claim against the property owner, you must be able to show the following:

- The property owner knew, or should have known there existed a dangerous condition on the property

- Repairing or removing the dangerous condition, or advising the tenant (you) of the danger would not have been unreasonably difficult or expensive

- Because of the dangerous condition it was foreseeable a tenant (you) would be injured

- A tenant (you) were injured

Your next step is to gather your paperwork. Make copies of your medical bills, receipts for out of pocket expenses (for items such as medications, bandages, costs of travel to treatment, etc.), and verification form your employer confirming the amount of wages you lost as a result of the injury (and verification that it’s prohibiting you from working).

With those documents in hand, seek out several personal injury attorneys in your area. Most will not charge for initial office consultations. After letting several injury attorneys review the documents and speaking with you about the underlying facts, choose the attorney with whom you feel most comfortable.

In most cases, personal injury attorneys accept cases on a contingency fee basis. This means when you choose your attorney, he or she will not charge you any legal fees or costs until, and unless the attorney successfully settles your claim with the property owner, or wins your case in court.

At that time, the lawyer's fees (usually anywhere from 33% to 40%) and office expenses will be subtracted from your total settlement or court award. The rest is yours and should cover all your medical bills, out of pocket expenses, lost wages, and an amount for your pain suffering.

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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