Visitor Question

Fell off ladder while replacing a smoke detector in rental home…

Submitted By: Larry (Monroe, New Jersey)

While trying to replace a defective smoke detector in a house I am renting, I fell off a ladder and fractured both my ankle and Tibular plateau, requiring 3 surgeries and at least 3 months lost wages. I was replacing the smoke detector on behalf of the landlord, who needed to pass a local fire safety inspection.

Am I able to file claims to cover my medical expenses under the landlord’s homeowners insurance policy? Would my lost wages also be covered? How do I go about pursing a case like this? Thank you for any information you can give.

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 Larry,

Apartment complex owners and their landlords are not automatically responsible for every injury occurring on their properties. However, they may be held liable under certain conditions.

Property owners and their landlords are required to keep their properties safe and free of defects, such as slippery areas and surfaces, broken sidewalks, insufficient lighting, improper signage, etc.

If owners and their landlords fail to maintain their properties, and they know, or should know about an existing defect or dangerous condition, this notice (whether actual or constructive), could rise to the level of negligence.

That negligence, coupled with a tenant’s injury, can result in the property owner’s liability for injuries to tenants and their ensuing medical bills and related costs. Property owners and their managers must ensure their residential buildings and adjacent grounds are reasonably safe for their tenants and any guests.

To succeed in a personal injury claim against the property owner or landlord will require you to prove the owner and/or landlord (if different) were negligent.

Your assertion that you were “acting in behalf of the landlord” may have some merit, however it appears the only person who was negligent was unfortunately you.

You can certainly file an injury claim with the property owner’s insurance company, including a claim for your lost wages. In so doing, the insurance company may decide to pay, especially as you were acting on behalf of their insured. However, there is no guarantee that will happen.

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: May 23, 2016

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