Is apartment complex responsible for removing ice from stairs?

by Judy
(Dallas, Texas)

It snowed in Texas for a couple of days in which schools were closed. My daughter was leaving her upstairs apartment and slipped on the accumulated ice on the stairs, falling 12 steps and breaking her ankle. The day this happened the weather was clear and the ice and snow was melting. Schools and businesses were running as normal.

There was no clearing of ice/snow on the stairs by the complex. She has to sit on her bottom to go up and down the stairs to her apartment because she can not put any weight on her foot. She has also not been able to take time off to rest/heal due to needing to have income to pay bills.

This is been a very hard experience for her physically and mentally. Is the apartment complex liable for her medical expenses concerning this fall? Can she get pain and suffering? How does she pursue a case against them? Does she need a lawyer? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Is apartment complex responsible for removing ice from stairs?":

Judy (Dallas, Texas):

From the facts you present the apartment complex may be liable. An apartment complex has a legal duty to make sure the property is safe for its tenants, but that duty a "reasonable" one.

If the apartment complex completely ignored the accumulation of snow, then it would quite likely be liable. However, if the apartment complex made a reasonable attempt to remove the snow and ice, but it accumulated faster than they could remove it, then they may not be liable. That's what is meant by a "reasonable" duty.

Presuming the complex did not make any effort to remove the snow and ice, your daughter has a viable personal injury claim against the them.

Some personal injury claims can be handled without an attorney. These types of injuries are referred to as "soft tissue" and normally include sprains and strains to muscles, tendons and or ligaments, minor bruising, etc. However, some injuries are classified as "hard injuries" and are more serious. They include fractures, deep gashes requiring many stitches, head trauma, and the like.

Serious injuries like your daughter's require legal representation. These types of cases can be complex, and can require subpoenas, depositions, and other pretrial discovery.

Fortunately, most personal injury attorneys do not charge for an initial office consultation. Have your daughter make several appointments with attorneys and take copies of her medical records, photos of the staircase where she fell, and if possible, names of tenants who can testify they saw the snow and ice on that day.

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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