Can a Tenant Sue a Landlord for Falling Down the Stairs?

Can a Tenant Sue a Landlord for Falling Down the Stairs?

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Can a Tenant Sue a Landlord for Falling Down the Stairs?

If you live above the first floor in an apartment building, hopefully, your building has an elevator. But if you aren’t lucky enough to have that convenience, then you should be wary of one of the most common safety hazards in any residence—stairs.

When you fall down a flight of stairs, you might end up with a few bruises, or you could break your neck and die. It is almost impossible to determine how bad a fall will be until the accident has occurred. The only certainty is that you should get a medical diagnosis quickly to ensure you didn’t suffer any permanent damage.

If you have fallen down the stairs at your apartment, you are probably wondering how you can get compensation for that injury. You might ask, “Can a tenant sue a landlord for falling down the stairs?”

At Morgan & Morgan, we can answer that question based on the circumstances of your accident. If you have fallen down the stairs, don’t wait to consult with a slip and fall lawyer. Contact one of our personal injury attorneys immediately to schedule a free case evaluation and get all of your questions answered.

When Can a Tenant Sue a Landlord for Falling Down the Stairs?

The circumstances surrounding your fall will primarily determine whether you can sue for damages or not. And even if you can sue, it might not always be a landlord that is responsible for your injuries. A slip and fall lawyer can best determine who is liable and why they are liable.

However, if you are trying to determine whether you can sue a landlord on your own, there are certain questions you should ask to determine who is liable.

Who Is Responsible for the Condition of the Stairs?

Typically, the landlord will be responsible for the condition of the stairs in your apartment building, particularly if they are public stairs. If the stairs are in disrepair and their bad condition directly leads to your accident, the landlord likely is liable for your injuries.

However, a landlord can’t be expected to be psychic. If the stairs are not in a public area, you might need to inform the landlord that the stairs require maintenance or repairs. If you fail to inform the landlord of the need for repairs, then the landlord probably isn’t liable for the poor condition they were unaware of.

What Caused the Fall?

A landlord is responsible for maintaining a safe residence. If any portion of the stairs creates a falling hazard, they are probably responsible for the injuries you suffered during the fall. Stairs may be considered to be a falling hazard if:

  • The stairs are warped or cracked
  • The railing is broken or missing
  • There is poor lighting in the stairwell or on a landing
  • The stairs are particularly steep or narrow
  • The stairs are covered in ice or water, making them slippery

If the landlord has not repaired, maintained, or cleaned the stairs, and that directly resulted in your accident, you have the right to sue.

However, if you fell because you were recklessly running down the stairs or walking backward, you probably can’t sue, even if the stairs were in disrepair. In some states, if you were being reckless and the landlord was negligent, you might be able to sue, but you will receive a lesser award because you were partially responsible for the fall.

When a Tenant Can Sue Someone Other Than a Landlord for Falling Down the Stairs

Just because you feel down the stairs in a landlord-owned building, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the landlord is responsible. But it also doesn’t have to mean that you are responsible either. Other individuals can be liable, and you have the right to sue them, too.

You Were Pushed Down the Stairs

If another party intentionally pushed or tripped you, they are responsible for the fall and any injuries you suffered. This is a rather straightforward situation. The landlord might also have some slight liability in very specific circumstances, but typically the person that intentionally pushed you is responsible.

A Third Party Has Taken Responsibility for Building Maintenance

This situation is most likely if the landlord has hired a management company to handle their properties. If this is the case, the landlord might have a contract with the management company that passes all liability to it for any failure to perform repairs or maintenance.

Depending on your state, you might still sue the landlord, who will then get compensated by the management company. But there is a good chance that you will bypass the landlord completely and sue the management company.

You Probably Won’t Have to Sue

Often you shouldn’t be asking, “Can a tenant sue a landlord for falling down the stairs?” Instead, you should ask, “Should I sue my landlord?”

More often than not, filing a lawsuit won’t get you what you want. Instead, you will be better off filing a claim with your landlord's insurance policy.

Typically, if you win a lawsuit against your landlord, the landlord’s insurance will pay your compensation for that verdict. But a lawsuit could take years to complete, and you probably want that money a lot sooner. An insurance claim could get you roughly the same amount of money in a fraction of the time.

Even threatening to sue might be more effective than actually suing. By hiring an attorney and serving notice that you have an actionable claim, you can usually get the landlord's insurance company to negotiate a settlement. With a good attorney representing you, that negotiated settlement will get you all the compensation you need.

Consult With a Slip and Fall Lawyer Immediately After You Are Injured

There are a lot of factors that determine whether you can sue someone or whether you should. But rather than spending a lot of effort trying to determine that yourself, you are much better off letting a slip and fall lawyer answer your questions easily.

When you contact Morgan and Morgan, we provide a free case evaluation before you have to commit to a plan of action. During this evaluation, we examine the circumstances of your fall and determine who is responsible and what your best course of action is.

If you have an actionable case, that doesn’t mean we will have to file a lawsuit. Typically, we will investigate the case and collect evidence that proves your landlord is responsible for your harm. Then we will contact your landlord's insurance company, provide it with that evidence, and file a claim.

Hopefully, that will be enough to get the insurance company to approve compensation for your injuries. If it is, then we just need to negotiate for fair compensation.

To determine how much you are owed, we will examine your medical records, get an opinion from your doctor, and compare your case to similar past cases we have handled. This usually lets us accurately determine how much compensation you will need for current and future expenses arising from your injuries.

With any luck, that will be the end of it. The insurance company will agree to our demands, and you will get paid within a few weeks. If the company refuses, that usually is when we file a lawsuit on your behalf. It is rarely the preferred option, but our attorneys are experienced at trial and always ready to go to court.

Consequences of Suing Your Landlord

While you can probably win a lawsuit against your landlord if you have fallen down the stairs, there is one other major reason you probably want to avoid suing, if at all possible: your landlord owns the building you live in.

Just filing a lawsuit will usually create bad blood with your landlord. And if you win the lawsuit, that is almost certain to create animosity.

If you don’t move out of the building, you should expect that your landlord will do everything in their power to make your life miserable. They will look for excuses to evict you. And if that isn’t possible, they will probably try to make you want to leave.

Landlords have a lot of control over your comfort. They can make surprise inspections of your home, show it to potential renters at annoying times, or complete maintenance slowly. Reprisal after a lawsuit is illegal, but that doesn’t stop most landlords from doing it, and you might not be in the mood for another lawsuit.

If there is any way to maintain a civil relationship with your landlord, you should probably take it.

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

Morgan & Morgan

  • Can a Tenant Sue a Landlord for Falling Down the Stairs if They Were Warned About a Danger on the Stairs?

    Possibly. If the stairs were the only way to travel and they were unsafe, the landlord is probably responsible for any harm, even if they warned the tenant of the danger.

  • Can a Tenant Sue a Landlord for Falling Down the Stairs if the Landlord Offers a Settlement?

    Yes. Just because your landlord has offered you a settlement, that doesn’t mean you are required to accept it. If you decide the settlement offer is too low, you can demand more money. If your landlord refuses, you have the right to sue to get the money that you deserve.

  • How Much Will It Cost Me to Hire a Morgan & Morgan Slip and Fall Lawyer?

    We offer our services on contingency. This means that you only pay us if we can get you compensation for your claim. If we decide that we can’t take your case or fail to get you money, you will never receive a bill.

    But even if we do get you money, you will effectively pay us nothing. We will only take a percentage of the money that we get for you. This means that you will end up with more money than you started with, even after we take our fee.

  • The Law Firm to Contact After Falling Down a Flight of Stairs

    If you have fallen down the stairs at your home or apartment, you have probably suffered severe injuries that require significant medical attention. You shouldn’t have to pay for those medical costs on your own. A personal injury attorney from Morgan and Morgan can help you get the money you need to recover quickly.

    Don’t wait a moment after falling down the stairs. If you’re wondering whether a tenant can sue a landlord for falling down the stairs, contact Morgan and Morgan immediately to schedule a free case evaluation.

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