Whether you are the actual resident or merely a guest to the property, there are many duties that the landlord owes you. Landlords are often responsible for much of the safety on a piece of property, especially when it comes to shared or public areas on the property. If you are injured there, can you sue the landlord for your injuries?
Generally speaking, the responsibility for a particular area belongs to the landlord or tenant. Whichever party is responsible for upkeep in that area is typically responsible for injuries that disrepair and dangerous conditions might cause. If your accident happened in a common or public area, the landlord can likely be sued for damages. If the accident happened somewhere else, liability could fall on the landlord’s or the tenant’s shoulders, depending on the circumstances.
For a free case review on your potential injury case, call the South Carolina personal injury attorneys at Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers. For a free case review, call us at (803) 451-4000.
Can Landlords Be Sued for Injuries in South Carolina?
The first question to consider is whether landlords can be sued at all when it comes to injuries on their property. Generally speaking, any property owner can be sued for certain types of accidents and injuries on their property, but there are some elements that you must meet first. A few legal doctrines might appear to get in the way of suing a landlord, but they typically do not apply to many of the cases we are discussing in this article.
Liability for Property Injuries
To prove that a property owner or operator is responsible for an injury on their property, you have to prove that they knew about (or should have known about) the potential hazard and failed to take reasonable steps to clean it up, repair it, or warn you about it. For example, workers alerted to a spill in a grocery store should put “Caution: Wet Floor” signs around it and mop it up as soon as possible. Failing to do so could leave the store open to a lawsuit.
How Rental Agreements Affect Liability
Landlords might sometimes be protected from lawsuits by the terms of their rental agreements. Many landlords seek to prevent lawsuits from their tenants for day-to-day conditions inside the rental unit. Generally speaking, if you are a tenant in an apartment or even a commercial space like a store or office, you are usually responsible for the everyday operations inside that unit. This means that you would not be able to sue your landlord directly for things like spills or slip and falls in the space you control.
Unrepaired and Dangerous Conditions
However, depending on the terms of your rental agreement, the landlord could still be responsible for many dangers and unrepaired conditions on the property. Things like a collapsed roof, rotting stairs, or broken floorboards might be the landlord’s responsibility under the terms of the rental agreement (which is, after all, a contract).
Suing as a Guest
If you are not a party to the contract, you might be entitled to sue either the landlord (the owner of the property) or the tenant (the operator of the property). Our Columbia personal injury lawyers can help you figure out which party you should sue and fight to get you the damages you deserve, regardless of which person is responsible.
Injuries in Common Areas in South Carolina Rental Properties
Many injuries on someone else’s property happen in common areas or areas open to the public. Places like lobbies, stairwells, elevators, and even laundry rooms are typically directly under the control of the landlord or property management company. If you were injured in one of these locations, you likely would not sue any particular tenant at the property. Instead, you could be entitled to sue the landlord.
Again, you will need to prove the basic elements of a premises injury case, namely that the landlord knew about the danger and failed to use the proper care and skill to repair, clean up, or warn about the danger. Additionally, you will need to show that that area was indeed within their control rather than the control of a particular tenant.
You should be able to file a lawsuit like this whether you were a guest or a tenant at the rental property. For example, if you arrive at a friend’s apartment building to visit them and then you fall because of a slippery stairwell with no handrail, that should be the landlord’s fault, not your friend’s.
Additionally, if you are a tenant at an apartment building and are injured on the same dangerous stairwell, that should also be the landlord’s fault. Our Sumter personal injury lawyers will search your rental agreement for any potential terms that might prevent a lawsuit and fight to get you damages. If there are clauses dealing with mandatory arbitration agreements or other sections that try to shut down lawsuits, we will fight to overcome these terms and get your case filed in court.
Types of Dangerous Conditions that Landlords Can Be Sued for in South Carolina
Landlords are often held liable for dangerous conditions or unrepaired conditions that they have left to linger. Often, landlords are alerted to a danger on their property – whether inside a specific unit or in a common area – and they allow them to go unrepaired. The following are some examples of dangers a landlord could potentially be held liable for:
- Structural collapse risks
- Broken or uneven flooring
- Unreasonably slippery flooring
- Broken or uneven stairs
- Missing or removed handrails
- Sharp or broken door handles and contact points
- Leaks and flooding
- Broken or missing fire alarms, fire extinguishers, and other fire safety measures
- Broken or missing security alarms, locks, or other safety measures
Local laws and ordinances might affect some of these rules. Call our Lexington personal injury lawyers for help with your case and more information about whether you have a valid claim for injuries against a landlord.
Call Our South Carolina Premises Injury Lawyers Today
For a free case review, call the South Carolina premises liability attorneys at Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers. Our number is (803) 451-4000.