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Could your landlord be liable for your slip-and-fall injuries?

Robert F. Spohrer

You may have heard about premises liability, the legal principle that holds a property owner responsible when a person who is on that property legally falls and gets injured because of a reasonably preventable trap, like a wet floor or broken step. Most people think of premises liability applying in stores, malls, hotels and other places that are open or semi-open to the public. But if you rent a home in Florida and suffer a serious fall on the premises, your landlord might have to compensate you for your injuries.

A landlord’s legal duties

When a Jacksonville landlord leases a house, townhouse or apartment, they begin to owe several legal duties to their new tenants. These include:

  • Ensuring that the property meets all building and housing codes
  • Inspecting the property before the tenant moves in to see if everything is in reasonable working order and, if not, making necessary repairs
  • Continuing to take reasonable steps to monitor and repair potential traps (for example, keeping sidewalks clear, making sure outside doors lock properly, replacing burned-out lightbulbs in the common areas, etc.)
  • Dealing with tenant concerns about domesticated animals owned by other tenants (such as aggressive dogs) and animals that wander onto the property

Essentially, your landlord is supposed to make sure your apartment is reasonably safe before you move in and is responsible for repairing dangerous defects promptly after you notify them. Besides things that can cause a slip-and-fall accident, landlords are also responsible for keeping the premises reasonably secure from crimes like assault. If someone sneaks into your apartment building due to a broken lock on the door and attacks you, you may be able to sue your landlord for compensation.

Taking on a negligent landlord

Many landlords are large companies with high legal budgets to defend themselves against litigation. But if the facts are on your side, a large settlement or jury verdict is possible.