It can be challenging to determine who should be liable if a tenant is injured on their rental property. Is it the landlord? Is there an option for compensation for the injuries? What can the landlord or the tenant do to protect themselves moving forward? We will review these topics in the following article. Read below to learn more.
Was the Landlord Negligent?
Florida has a premises liability law that requires all landlords to maintain all rental property to protect the safety of tenants and their guests. They must do this by complying with their duties to fix issues they are aware of in a reasonable amount of time.
These requirements also mean adhering to the applicable county, state, or federal housing codes relative to their property and following through on all maintenance needs. These actions can include ensuring the safety of the premises through sidewalk maintenance and installing anti-slip materials where necessary. It can also include repairing handrails, steps, roofs, potholes, and other common slip and fall hazards.
What Factors Will Be Reviewed to Determine Negligence?
The following factors will be reviewed by the courts when faced with a personal injury case to determine negligence on behalf of the landlord.
Notification of hidden dangers. Landlords must relay knowledge of potential property hazards, such as uneven stairs or uneven flooring, or redirect tenants to use another set of stairs until they can repair the property.
If the tenant is injured on a piece of property that the landlord is legally responsible for maintaining, this may be an issue. For example, if a broken handrail on a staircase was not repaired in a timely fashion and the tenant fell, they may have cause for negligence.
The likelihood of serious injury will be reviewed. For example, suppose a portion of the property needs maintenance and could be a reasonable cause for serious injury. In that case, the landlord must prove an effort was made to warn the tenants of the area via a sign or other signal to the hazardous area.
If it is reasonable that an accident can occur, the landlord is responsible for mitigating that risk. If a freak accident occurred, it isn’t likely that the landlord would be found negligent, as it was an unreasonable cause for injury.
What Damages Can I Potentially Recover in a Tenant Injury Case?
If you are injured on your rental property and negligence is proven, there are a few forms of compensation that you can pursue.
The cost to repair your injuries, such as medical bills, physical therapy bills, costs associated with transportation to the hospital and back (including the ambulance ride, if necessary), and costs for medications essential to your injury.
You may also be able to recover costs associated with lost wages. Both while you are healing and if you now have a diminished earning capacity due to your injury. For example, a substantial injury may change your employment capabilities.
Non-economic damages such as loss of enjoyment of life may also be included. Pain and suffering can be included in non-economic damages, mental anguish, and more.
What is Comparative Negligence and Why is it Important?
Comparative negligence involves more than one party exhibiting proven negligence that led to the injury or accident. In some cases, the landlord may be proven to be negligent, but the tenant also contributed to the fault for the accident due to their actions.
For example, if the tenant was acting recklessly while running up or down stairs with an untied shoe and the laces and running contributed to the cause of the fall, they may be found partially at fault for the injury.
Courts will consider all the facts that led to the accident and determine a percentage of fault for both the landlord and the tenant. Suppose both parties are proven to be at fault, the landlord is 60% at fault, and the tenant is 40% at fault. In that case, the tenant will have the compensation reduced to 60% of total damages, rather than 100%, as they were found to have contributed to the negligence of the incident. In this example, if $1,000 in total damages were awarded, the tenant would be awarded $600.
What is the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations on slips and falls founded on negligence in Florida is four years. The timeline gives the tenant four years to file a lawsuit in an attempt to recover damages.
If the tenant does not file within four years of the date of the fall, the case may be denied by the courts, regardless of merit.
How Can a Lawyer Help?
Whether you are the tenant or the landlord in an injury lawsuit situation, we understand and respect how challenging this position is. It is crucial to have an experienced attorney on your side. One with vast knowledge of the rules and regulations that must be adhered to on both sides and what to expect.
Without proper representation, you could wrongfully be negligent, and this can cause significant financial distress and unnecessary stress that could be avoided.
Don’t attempt to work with just anyone to be your tireless advocate in this situation. Contact our office today at (407) 426-7222 to speak with highly trained and compassionate lawyers ready to assist you with your needs and confident in our ability to do so.