According to the 2015 American Community Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau, 35 percent of residents in the United States are renting versus owning. This means that over 111 million people are living in some type of rental property.
As the numbers indicate, a lot of individuals and families are renters. While their lifestyles and circumstances may all differ, everyone has one goal in mind – they just want to rent a place that is safe, comfortable, and which they can call home. Unfortunately, whether you are renting an apartment, townhouse, or single-family home, problems can always arise and the potential for injury exists.
So, what should you do if you are severely injured while renting?
Personal Injury Explained
Before you even consider taking any type of legal action against your landlord, you should understand exactly what is involved in a personal injury case. Accidents and injuries can happen anywhere, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your landlord is at fault simply because it happened where you are living. In order to have a personal injury case, you must be able to prove that your injury occurred as result of your landlord’s negligence.
Examples of Negligent Behavior
For your landlord to be held liable for your injury, there are several different factors that must be in place. To make a strong case that your injury was caused by your landlord’s negligence, you should be prepared to prove the following:
- It was the responsibility of your landlord to properly maintain the area where you were injured. For example, if you fall down the stairs in your townhouse because one of the steps was lose, then your landlord could be held accountable if the lease indicates that he or she was responsible for all of the maintenance inside of the unit.
- The landlord could have taken steps to prevent the accident from occurring but failed to do so. Even if they may save a little time and money, shortcuts and quick fixes can just result in bigger problems down the road.
- The cost to remedy the issue was affordable and not outrageously expensive.
- The potential of a serious injury occurring was foreseeable. If the landlord knew that the problem existed and that it could injure a tenant, then there is a big problem.
- Your severe injury is a direct result of the landlord’s negligence.
Pursuing Legal Action
If you are severely injured while living in a rental property and the incident occurred because of negligence, then you might have the option to file a personal injury lawsuit against your landlord. However, it is important to first review all of the fine print that is in your rental agreement. This will help to ensure that your landlord truly was responsible for the area that caused your injury. Additionally, it is also important to remember that two renters in two different properties may have very different rental agreements. Just because someone else’s lease indicated that repairs were not their responsibility does not automatically mean that yours will as well. A thorough review of the lease that you signed will help you gain a better understanding on whether or not you can pursue legal action.
If your rental agreement indicates that responsibility falls on your landlord, then the next step is to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. Your lawyer will be able to compile all of the necessary evidence before you can file a personal injury lawsuit. In a valid personal injury case, you will have the ability to seek compensation for:
- Current medical bills resulting from the injury
- Anticipated future medical bills
- Lost earnings from being unable to work
- Permanent physical disability
- Pain and suffering