When might a landlord be liable for an injury?
If you were injured at an apartment complex, you might be wondering against whom you should file. If you are a tenant, do you file with your own insurance? If you are a visitor, do you file with your friend’s renter’s insurance? Is she even liable because she does not own the property? Can you file against landlord? Whether a landlord is liable for an accident depends on several factors, including:
- Why you were on the property
- Whether you were a tenant or visitor or trespasser (owners do not owe trespassers any duty to keep the property safe)
- What caused the accident
These cases can be complicated. Contact the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. to schedule a free consultation to evaluate your claim: 404-474-0804.
Liability for Injury to a Tenant or Guest
If you are injured on property that you lease, is your landlord liable for your injuries? That depends on whether the landlord was negligent, and whether that negligence resulted in your injuries.
The mere fact that an injury occurred on the property does not make the landlord automatically liable.
In order to be negligent, the landlord has to have had a duty and failed to meet it. For example, a landlord has a duty to keep the property safe and to protect tenants from known risks.
A landlord's highest duty is toward his tenants, but the landlord must also exercise ordinary care to keep the premises safe for guests.
I was injured because the landlord does not maintain the property. Can I hold him liable?
If someone is injured as a result of “defective construction” or the failure to maintain the premises, Georgia courts are likely to find the landlord liable per O.C.G.A. § 44-7-14.
For example, if a tenant reported that a handrail was broken and the landlord did not repair it, the landlord could be liable for any injuries that occur because of that broken handrail.
It is important to note that the you will need to prove that the landlord knew about the dangerous condition or should have known about it. If you reported the hazardous condition or it had been there long enough that a reasonable person should have known about it, you will likely be able to prove that the landlord breached his duty.
Where did the accident take place?
Liability can also depend on where the accident took place. If a tenant is injured in a common area of the apartment complex, the landlord will be more likely to be liable than if the tenant was injured in his/her own apartment. This is because the accident may have resulted from modifications the tenant made.
For example, if a tenant made modifications to the interior of his/her apartment, and sustained injuries from those modifications, the landlord is likely not liable.
Can a tenant be liable for injury on the premises?
Yes, as we discussed in the previous section, a tenant can be liable for injuries on the premises, if s/he caused the dangerous condition. A tenant will also be liable for his own intentional acts that result in injury to himself or others.
A tenant may also share liability if his/her own actions contributed to his/her injury. For example, if the injured party was texting and tripped and fell over broken concrete on the sidewalk, s/he may be liable if the landlord can prove that s/he would have seen the broken concrete if s/he were paying attention.
Can a landlord be liable for the criminal acts of others on the premises?
It depends. If the landlord properly maintained the premises in a safe condition, and the tenant sustained injuries through the criminal act of a third party in an area over which the tenant had complete control, the landlord will not be liable for the tenant's injuries.
However, per O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1, landlords may be liable if their negligence leads to a criminal act. For example, if someone enters through a broken gate and robs and assaults a tenant, the landlord may be liable for the robbery and assault. However, in many cases, the injured party will have to prove that the criminal act was foreseeable.
Call to Get Help with Your Case
Holding a landlord liable can be difficult. There are multiple laws you must know and consider when proving landlord liability. An Atlanta premises liability attorney can help.
Contact the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. to schedule your free consultation to evaluate your claim: 404-474-0804.