Visitor Question

Injured by Falling Tree Limb…

Submitted By: Stephanie (Ramona, CA)

I live in an illegal garage on a horse ranch and in trade I’m supposed to: pick up the horses’ poop, water, empty manure into the dumpster and rake leaves. My landlady charges me $100+ for utilities.

She DEMANDED that I cut down several large tree limbs (to let a small tree grow) and I was using a chain saw. I cut the limb which fell and hit me in the head, scraped my arm, caused me to fall off the ladder, and injured my back. (This job duty was NOT in the agreement – I wrote up a simple lease but she refused to sign it.)

I also was moving her horse equipment (her demand) and a very large cabinet fell on my chest, smacking my back into the concrete.

I don’t know what to do as I have a place to move into becoming available in a few weeks, but now I cannot afford to move. The landlady continually harasses me about something or other, or accuses me of “using all her stuff.” I never touched anything of hers, as it is not my way.

Can you please offer some information on what I can do?

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.


Dear Stephanie,

The circumstances you present do not include a reason why you’re unable to afford to move. It seems the landlord was not paying you any money, but instead entered into a “barter” agreement for your services in exchange for the use of a garaged area on her property.

If you do not have enough money to move into your new residence you might think about coming to an agreement with your landlord; a new agreement which would clarify your respective duties and responsibilities.

Ask your landlord if she carries medical insurance, and if so ask to be added to her insurance policy. If she agrees, then any further injuries will be treated without fear of not having the money to do so.

We also suggest you make clear to the landlord you have not used any of her personal property without her permission. The last thing you want to happen is to have the landlord accuse you of stealing some of her property.

If the landlord will not agree to come to a mutual accommodation, we suggest you clear your vehicle out of her garage, and take all of your other personal property and leave her premises at the earliest possible time.

Learn more here: "Off the Books" Work Injuries

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!


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