Landlords, like all property owners, have a duty to ensure that the houses and apartments they rent to tenants are safe. Whether it is the driveway being plowed after a snowstorm or handling potentially dangerous maintenance issues, tenants often have certain expectations for their landlord. If a person is hurt because of their landlord’s negligence, Indiana law allows them to hold the landlord liable for their injuries.
In a recent state appellate opinion, the court was tasked with deciding whether a landlord could be held liable for a tenant’s slip and fall outside of the apartment complex. According to the court’s opinion, the tenant was severely injured exiting the apartment building, slipping on a patch of ice in the driveway. While the landlord normally hired a snow plow contractor to keep the driveway safe, they failed to do so this particular winter. The plaintiff sued his landlord for not keeping the property safe and not removing the snow and ice from the driveway, the cause of his injury.
In this case, the court noted that a tenant who slips on ice can bring a negligence claim against a landlord who failed to exercise reasonable care in removing the ice, unless the plaintiff is more than fifty percent responsible for their injuries. Here, the court ruled that the landlord was negligent as he did not attempt to remove the snow or ice. However, the court also held that the tenant’s injuries were more attributable to his own error than the landlord’s. Thus, the court found that the landlord was not liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.
In Indiana, the law is similar to this case: a tenant can prevail against a landlord who failed to keep the common area of an apartment building safe for use. Because a landlord is often more aware of potential dangers on the property, and they ensure a safe premise in return for a tenant’s rent, they can be liable in these situations. This may include a situation in which the landlord knows of a hidden hazard and failed to inform the tenant of its presence. Additionally, if a landlord agrees to repair the property and does not do so, including shoveling the driveway after a snowstorm, the landlord could be sued for any injuries a tenant suffered. However, if the plaintiff is more at fault for the accident than the fault of all people whose negligence contributed to the accident, they cannot be compensated for their injuries.
Because landlord liability can vary from state to state, depending on if the plaintiff is partially at fault and the specific facts of the case, it is critical to consult an Indiana personal injury attorney who can help determine the right course of action.
Have You Been Injured Due to Unsafe Apartment Conditions?
If you or a loved one has been injured because of a hazard at your living place, contact the Indiana premises liability attorneys at Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse LLP. With experience handling a variety of personal injury lawsuits, our dedicated attorneys will fight to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact our office at 888-532-7766 to speak to an attorney at our office and to schedule a free consultation.