If you are a residential or commercial tenant and are injured in an accident on the property, a question arises as to whether you can look to the landlord for compensation. The answer depends on who was principally responsible for the condition that led to the accident.
While a landlord has an obligation to keep the property in good repair and free from hazards, that duty is shared by the occupying tenant, who has hands-on control of the premises day to day and is likely to be more aware of the property condition. When a visitor or other third party is injured, they can bring a premises liability suit against both the landlord and the tenant.
The situation is different when you, as the tenant, are injured. You may have slipped and fallen as a result of an unsafe condition that you were aware of, such as a flight of stairs in disrepair, or one that you caused, such as ice or snow you failed to clear from a walkway. The fact that you are in principal control of the property means that you have a duty of keeping it safe.
However, this does not relieve the landlord of all responsibility. Your landlord can still be liable for injuries that resulted from an unsafe condition that was his or her obligation to repair. You must prove that the landlord either knew or should have known that the condition existed and failed to fix the problem or to put safeguards in place.
A landlord’s liability can also result from failure to remediate an unhealthy condition such as insect or mold infestation or asbestos or lead paint exposure. Generally, injuries to the tenant that result from the landlord’s failure to maintain the structure as required by the lease or by municipal law are actionable in court.
New York law applies the doctrine of comparative negligence, which means that when multiple parties share the blame for an accident, their liability is shared as well. Fault for an accident may lie with both the landlord and the tenant, such as when a known hazard like loose floor tiling goes unrepaired by both. As a tenant, you can recover damages from the landlord only to the extent that you can show you exercised proper caution, which may have required you to avoid walking on that section of floor.
Premises liability is a complicated area of the law and cases require careful analysis and proof. A New York attorney knowledgeable in the field can advise you on how to best assert your right to damages. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to recover all or most of your medical costs and other damages suffered in your accident.
The lawyers at Goldberg Sager & Associates are experienced in all aspects of premises liability cases in New York. To schedule a consultation in our Brooklyn office, call us at 718-514-9516 or contact us online today.