Tore my meniscus falling on stairs in my apartment complex...
My apartment complex has several staircases that are unstable and have steel that has rusted and is sticking up. I was coming down my stairs and my foot got stuck on a 2-3 inch piece of this metal, causing me to fall face first down the stairs, injuring my knee and neck.
The apartment complex refused to fill out an incident report and the assistant manager said, "Maybe you should be more careful. We don't handle injuries on the property, that's your problem." I need surgery because I tore my meniscus tendon in my right knee. Also, I am a nurse and I lost my job because of this injury.
What can I do about this? Is the complex at fault? How do I get them to accept fault for not maintaining the stairs? Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Tore my meniscus falling on stairs in my apartment complex...":
Rebecca (Austin, Texas):
Property owners have a legal "duty of care" to do everything within reason to make sure the property is safe for everyone legally upon the property. When an owner fails to ensure their property is safe, and as a result a tenant is injured, the owner is said to have "breached" his or her legal duty of care.
From the facts you present, the property owner undoubtedly knew about the staircases that were unstable and had rusted steel sticking up. Inasmuch as the property owner, or the landlord, knew about the danger and failed to take corrective action, he or she is responsible, or "liable," for your damages.
Some injury claims can be successfully handled by a victim without legal representation. Those injury claims normally include "soft tissue" injuries. These can be strains and sprains to ligaments, muscles and tendons, minor bruising, and cuts, whiplash, and other relatively minor injuries.
Your injuries are more serious and will likely require extensive medical treatment, including surgery. As a result, you really need to seek the advice and counsel of several personal injury attorneys. In serious injury claims, there's just too much to lose when a victim represents him or herself. Claims adjusters almost always take advantage of victims' naivete.
Insurance companies know most injury attorneys have experience in similar types of injury claims. As a result, companies prefer to settle claims for what they're really worth, rather than let the attorney file a lawsuit and extend a claim for months, and in some cases, even years.
Moreover, insurance companies know if the claim becomes a lawsuit there is always the possibility a jury may award the victim a much higher amount than the insurance company should have settled for before trial.
Fortunately, most injury attorneys do not charge for initial office consultations. Make copies of all your medical and therapy records, receipts for your out-of-pocket expenses (for such items as medications, bandages, etc.), and a letter from your employer verifying the wages you've lost as a result of the injury, its treatment and recovery time. Bring those records along to the consultations.
After visiting with several personal injury attorneys you will have a much better understanding of your rights, the law, and the approximate amount your injury claim may settle for.
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,
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