Injuries on Rental Properties: Can I Recover Compensation?
Injured While Visiting Loved Ones for the Holidays?
As the season for spending time with friends and family grows near, many of us will be traveling to unfamiliar locations where we may spend a few hours or a few days. With more people choosing to rent than buy, these meetings may be held on property owned by a third party. Usually, this isn’t a problem, but if a property owner fails to fulfill their duty to keep the property reasonably safe, you or a loved one could suffer dangerous injury. Don’t let unexpected medical bills add to your holiday expenses.
Owners Must Keep Rental Properties Safe
Part of the bargain of renting is that tenants are not responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the property. The landlord must foot the bill—and make sure hazards are dealt with in a timely manner. If they fail to do so, anyone hurt by the unsafe conditions can hold the landlord liable for damages. This includes visitors to the property. There are limits to liability; landlords aren’t responsible for inside dangers caused by a renter’s modifications to a property. Shared areas, however, should be safe for all as a matter of course.
Watch for Dangerous Situations
Especially during the winter months, shorter days and colder temperatures lend themselves to dangerous conditions outdoors. When you’re having visitors, or visiting others who live in rentals, be wary of these common threats.
Snow or Ice Hazards
Snow can cover tripping hazards, especially in flat lighting or conditions that cause drifting. Ice, especially black ice, can cause unsuspecting pedestrians to slip and fall. Walk carefully after a winter storm, taking small steps and limiting your speed in case of unseen dangers.
Broken or Out of Code Stairs
Stairways are regulated for safety and steps must be a certain height and width in all residential areas. Any series of four or more steps must have a continuous handrail. A stairwell must also be of sufficient height for tall individuals. Staircase injuries including trip and falls can result in broken bones or head injuries, so be careful—especially if you’re carrying a potluck dish or a pile of gifts.
Balcony or Deck Collapse
Under the load of heavy snow and ice or a group of guests, balconies or decks that are not properly reinforced may come loose. Dangerous for anyone using the balcony, for renters in units below, and/or for anyone walking underneath, such an accident might result in grievous injuries for multiple people.
Cloudy days and long nights mean a burnt-out lightbulb could have an outsized effect on pedestrian safety. Whether making it harder to see ice hazards or hiding other dangerous situations in shadow, insufficient lighting could result in trips or slips in parking garages, covered walkways or stairways, or other parts of a property that receive less natural light.
If a landlord fails to keep up with regular maintenance, buildings may become weathered and begin to break down. Especially as freezing water expands, loosely connected objects including fixtures or parts of walls or ceilings may be pried away from their holdings. Falling objects can hit unsuspecting walkers, causing serious head or brain injuries.
Smoke or Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Each rental unit must have at least one functioning smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector under New York law. During the winter, house fires may break out due to issues including heater malfunctions or unattended holiday cooking. Carbon monoxide poisoning also threatens any building with an attached garage; the common practice of warming up cars can result in a buildup of the deadly gas unless proper ventilation is present. Missing or malfunctioning alarms might result in resident and guest injury, or even wrongful death.
Yes, You Can Hold Landlords Liable for Neglecting Their Property Management Duties
If you or a loved one is injured by an unfortunate accident on someone else’s property, they may be responsible for medical bills and other expenses accrued after the incident. Landlords may not live in or even use their properties, but that doesn’t let them off the hook for keeping them functional and hazard-free. Talk to our team to learn more about property liability and landlord responsibilities in New York.
Reach out online or call us at (718) 690-3132 for a free consultation.