Visitor Question

Slipped in apartment bathtub on first night and broke multiple teeth

Submitted By: Eric (Charlotte, North Carolina)

On the first night of moving into my apartment in North Carolina, I slipped in the bathtub/shower and landed on the tub sidewall, face first resulting in multiple broken top teeth. The bathtub was very slick, I had just stepped in and immediately fell.

The apartment had been professionally cleaned by the landlord prior to moving in. I called property manager and informed them, but they stated they were not responsible.

I saw an emergency dentist who moved my out-of-place teeth back into place and bonded them together with a glued splint. I also had x-rays and one tooth was broken at the root and was gone. I have seen a periodontist but cannot afford, even with dental insurance, the cost of bone grafting and implants necessary to maintain the shape of my face and prevent bone loss in my jaw. Additionally, some lower teeth are now loose and are giving me problems as well. Estimated costs so far are around $10,000.

I am a mid-40s athletic male who does yoga and plays sports – balance and coordination are not an issue for me, which speaks to how slick that tub really was. It was almost like it was coated with WD40 as the tub had a brilliant shine to it. (I have no idea what they used to clean it.)

Do I have any recourse against the landlord or the cleaning company?

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 Eric,

Thank you for your question. You might have recourse against either the landlord or the cleaning company, or both, under a negligence theory. We recommend that you contact a personal injury attorney for help with your case.

Negligence Theory

Negligence is a legal term that means a person or entity failed to take reasonable care in doing something.

In the context of a slip and fall accident, you can succeed in bringing an injury claim against the alleged at-fault party if you can prove that the party acted negligently.

To prove negligence, you typically have to show that the owner of the property upon which you fell, or its agent, knew of an unsafe condition but failed to take reasonable steps to fix it.

Here, a few generalizations are helpful. The unsafe or dangerous condition in your case is the slick bathtub. The landlord owns the property upon which you fell, and the property manager acted as its agent in cleaning the tub.

The above means that, hypothetically, you could file a premises liability claim against your landlord or the property manager, or both, for your slip in the hazardous tub.

We’d have to learn more facts of the case, though, to say with any degree of certainty whether your landlord and the manager were, in fact, negligent.

Some important facts to consider are:

  • Did the manager or landlord know the tub cleanser caused a slick surface?
  • Was the manager or landlord aware of any other tub-related accidents?
  • Did the landlord or property manager apply anything to the tub after it was cleaned?
  • If yes, was either party aware that it would cause a slippery surface?

If any of the above considerations apply, and a party then did nothing to remedy the problem, you can likely file a strong negligence claim against that party.

Compensation in a Slip and Fall Case

If you’re successful in bringing a negligence claim, then the at-fault party must compensate you for your damages or losses.

Common damages in a slip and fall case include:

  • Medical expenses (including dental expenses)
  • Lost wages or future lost wages
  • Out of Pocket Expenses
  • Pain and suffering

If you were successful in filing a personal injury claim, you’d likely receive compensation for the estimated $10,000 in dental and medical expenses. You’ll also likely receive an amount to cover any pain and suffering that you incurred.

Statute of Limitations

If for any reason you don’t succeed in a personal injury claim (against either the landlord or the property manager), you do have the option of filing a lawsuit against either party.

Please keep in mind North Carolina General Statutes § 1-52. This is the North Carolina law that sets forth the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits. The SOL for injury actions in North Carolina is three years.

If you don’t settle your claim or file a lawsuit before the statutory three-year limit expires, you’ll lose your right to seek compensation.

Get Help from a Personal Injury Attorney

Unfortunately, you’ve suffered some extensive injuries in your case that will cost a significant amount of money to repair.

You’re also residing in one of the few states that rely on pure contributory negligence law for personal injury cases. For you, that means if the landlord can show you contributed as little as one percent of fault for the circumstances leading to your injuries, you can be barred from seeking compensation.

Given this, we recommend that you talk to a local North Carolina personal injury attorney for help.

A lawyer is better situated to research into the landlord’s operations, and those of the property manager, to try to help uncover any evidence that shows they acted negligently.

Learn more here: Apartment Complex Injury Claims

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 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,

Published:

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