Visitor Question

Broken Ankle from Unlevel Floors in Rental Property…

Submitted By: Marie (Mableton, GA)

I was standing on a step ladder (2-steps high) inside a rented property when it slipped from beneath me because of an unlevel floor (discovered after the accident).

I suffered a broken ankle which has required 2 surgeries so far. I have constant nerve pain and cannot stand or walk for very long at a time. I cannot run at all and have significant scarring and arthritis in the ankle.

The landlord barely acknowledged the injury after we explained why the fall happened (it is not obvious when looking at the floor). Instead, he wanted us to pay for a wheelchair ramp during the time I was non-weight bearing.

Would his homeowners insurance pay my medical bills and could I get pain and suffering for my injuries? I’m afraid he will rent to someone else and not disclose the unlevel floors throughout the premises, so what should I do? Thanks.

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 Marie,

Although there is a possibility the landlord’s homeowners insurance may pay for your damages, it is more likely the landlord will be liable personally or corporately. That’s because the property wasn’t his “homestead” but rather a rental property.

It would be beneficial to learn if your landlord personally owns the property in which your were injured, or whether he owned the property through either a “subchapter S” corporation or other corporate form.

In either event if you can prove the unlevel floor was a proximate cause of your injuries you may have a case, though proving such will be a very difficult task.

If you weren’t able to detect an unlevel floor prior to the accident it is altogether possible the landlord was unaware of the problem as well. Even if he knew the floor was not perfectly level, there are hundreds of thousands of properties across the United States which do not have perfectly level floors. That is usually a result of the naturally shifting earth upon which the structures are built, the age of the structures, and other similar affects.

Unless you can prove the unlevel surface was inherently dangerous, and the landlord knew of the danger and took no measures to correct it, you may have a difficult time getting any compensation, especially any amount for pain and suffering.

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: March 22, 2012

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