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Serious Injuries Require
Many people have a misconception that merely because they fell and have an injury, they are automatically entitled to money. This is not the case. In order to obtain a damages award or settlement in a slip-and-fall case, a person must prove responsibility on the part of whoever was in charge of maintaining the subject location or property. Therefore, there are always two important elements to slip-and-fall accident cases.
The accident itself must give rise to some partial or complete fault on someone else’s part. You need to prove liability on the part of whoever you feel is responsible for the conditions causing you to fall. Once and only once you have done that are you entitled to receive monetary damages for the pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment and loss of daily activities.
Generally, the misconception looks like this: “Well, I had an accident. I am entitled to money right away, and it is just a question of how much.” It’s just not true and not that simple.
The question cannot be answered without knowing more information about the true and full extent of the injuries, harm and other damages that resulted from the slip and fall. Obviously, cases have different values depending upon different variables.
A particular injury will often determine initially what type of dollar value a case has. After the true and full extent of the injuries are known, other variables, such as loss of earnings, medical costs, etc., can be considered when determining the full value of the case. Additionally, determining whether or not the sued defendant is entirely responsible for the injuries or whether the victim also bears some responsibility for the accident can also affect the value of the claim or case.
Of course, if the defendant is 100% responsible for the accident, then no reduction in the value of the case should occur. However, if for some reason the victim was negligent due to not seeing what was there to be seen or should have been seen and the accident could have been avoided, then the party who is being sued and his or her insurance carrier will always claim it is not entirely responsible and the value of the case should be reduced. For example, if the case was worth $100,000 and the victim was 25% responsible, then the case would be worth $75,000.
People use the term landlord loosely. Usually, the landlord, from a lawyer’s perspective, is the owner of the property. As an owner of the property, the owner would certainly be responsible for any dangerous slip-and-fall conditions, and merely because a person is a tenant in that building does not take away the landlord’s responsibility. Additionally, the managing agent in charge of operating or managing the building could also bear responsibility, especially if the owner has a separate company or individual managing that building. There are many common areas inside multiple dwellings/apartment buildings such as lobbies, vestibules, laundry rooms, elevator banks and common hallways, not to mention stairways that must be maintained by landlords and their agents.
This gets a little complicated because a person cannot expect an owner or a landlord of a building to be responsible for every accident or every injury that takes place in an area of the building that is not under the landlord’s control, or in areas where the owner or landlord does not have a responsibility to maintain on a regular basis.
As I stated earlier, there are common areas throughout many buildings. Certainly, the landlord would be responsible to maintain those areas and make sure they are in a safe and proper condition. Furthermore, if repairs are needed, the landlord must take care of those conditions.
The issue becomes a little more complicated inside an individual apartment because, at first glance, one would think that the landlord has responsibility merely because he owns the property. However, a landlord cannot be responsible for making repairs due to conditions that he is not aware of.
The landlord would be held responsible as long as it can be proven that he knew or should have known about a condition in a tenant’s private apartment. In this regard, landlords do have the responsibility to go into apartments periodically to make sure the equipment and fixtures in those apartments are in working order and that they are operating correctly.
Furthermore, any tenant residing in a particular apartment has a responsibility to notify the landlord concerning conditions that could pose a danger or cause an accident. Therefore, there could be shared responsibility for conditions inside a tenant’s apartment. A number of parties might be involved in the lawsuit. Likewise, if a tenant occupies an entire house leased from a landlord who doesn’t live there, the landlord is known as an absentee landlord. The absentee landlord still has a duty to take care of and repair conditions that the landlord knows exist on the property such as a leaky gutter or roof area that results in water on a pathway that turns to ice posing danger to people.
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