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Check Lease When Claiming Landlord Premises Liability

Posted on in Personal Injury

Check Lease When Claiming Landlord Premises LiabilityThere are three factors that a personal injury claimant must prove in a case of premises liability:

  • The defendant owed a duty to maintain the safety of the property;
  • The defendant neglected its duty in the upkeep of the property; and
  • The negligence is responsible for the injury that the plaintiff suffered.

In a landlord-tenant relationship, the lease will often spell out each party’s responsibility for upkeep and safety. If a tenant is injured due to unsafe conditions on the rental property, he or she should examine the terms of the lease to understand whether the landlord can be held liable for the injury.

Duty Owed

The party responsible for maintaining the safe conditions of a property is often determined by who primarily uses the section of the property:

  • Landlords may be responsible for the cleaning and inspection of public areas used by multiple tenants; and
  • Tenants are likely responsible for their private living areas.

A slipping hazard in an apartment hallway may be the landlord’s responsibility if the landlord regularly maintains the area. A slipping hazard within an apartment is likely the tenant’s responsibility. The landlord can assume responsibility for the upkeep of any area either by stating so in the lease or through regular action. Complicating matters is the fact that some areas are not clearly public or private. For instance, a landlord may claim that a set of stairs is a private area if only one tenant has access to it.

Neglect of Duty

Once the plaintiff has established that the landlord had a duty to maintain the property, he or she must prove that the landlord neglected that duty. To be liable, the landlord must have had reason to know of the safety hazard and have failed to act in a timely manner. Most landlords do not allow tenants to perform repairs themselves, whether in public or private areas. However, tenants are responsible for informing landlords of safety hazards if the landlord has not established a duty to regularly inspect the area. It is best for plaintiffs to make a record of when they contacted the landlord about the problem to establish prior knowledge.

Cause of Injury

Even when a landlord has neglected a duty to maintain the safety of a property, the plaintiff must make a reasonable effort to avoid injury. The plaintiff may be partially at fault if he or she walked into an obvious hazard or behaved in a reckless manner. If an Illinois court determines that the plaintiff was more than 50 percent at fault for the injury, the plaintiff will not receive compensation for the injury.

Premises Liability

There are many hurdles you must overcome to receive injury compensation from a property owner. A McHenry County personal injury attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can evaluate whether a property owner may be held liable for your injuries. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.



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