When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Southeast Texas, and parts of Louisiana, it got everyone thinking about storm-related injuries. As a renter, if you’re injured in your building during a storm, is the landlord liable for your storm injury?
Let’s first look at New York’s premises liability law in order to answer that question.
How Premises Liability Works in New York
Premises liability law says that if you are injured while you are lawfully on someone else’s property, the owner of the property is liable for your injuries – as long as your injuries were caused by the owner’s negligence.
If you are renting an apartment, the landlord or property manager is responsible for maintaining the building and the property. If the landlord is negligent in that responsibility and you’re injured as a result, then the landlord is liable.
For example, suppose one of the steps in your building’s stairway is broken. You trip on the step and break your arm during the fall. The landlord can potentially be responsible for your injuries.
However, you will have to show that:
- You were allowed to be on the property. As long as you have a signed lease agreement on file, there shouldn’t be any issues. If a friend is injured while visiting you, make sure they’re allowed to be there, per the terms of your lease.
- The landlord was negligent in fixing an unsafe condition. This means that the owner not only knew or should have known about the hazard, they also failed to fix the hazard, warn people about it, or improperly fixed it.
- The landlord’s negligence directly caused your injury. If you fall and hurt yourself playing hockey, then later fall when the landlord neglects to put up a wet floor sign in the hallway, you need to be able to show that you suffered different, specific injuries (or exacerbations of your initial injuries) during the hallway fall.
If you are injured inside of your apartment instead of the building’s communal areas, you will need to determine if you or your landlord is responsible for that maintenance.
What Happens With Storm-Related Injuries?
In the event that you’re injured in your apartment building during a storm, the same elements above still apply.
If tenants are injured in a storm due to building damage related to negligence, the landlord could be held liable. They’re liable as long as you can show they were negligent maintaining the building and that negligence caused your injury.
Regardless of the situation, you have rights as a tenant, and a landlord owes their tenants a reasonable standard of care. In order to determine if your landlord has acted reasonably, ask yourself these two questions:
- What would the average, reasonable landlord do in a similar situation?
- Did your landlord at least exercise that same level of care?
If your answer to the last question is yes, then you don’t have a lawsuit on your hands. If the answer to that last question, however, is no, then you should reach out to an experienced New York personal injury attorney.
A knowledgeable personal injury attorney will listen to the details of your claim and investigate your case. The attorney can determine whether your landlord is liable for your injuries and if you’re entitled to compensation. Depending on the severity of your injury, you might be able to collect damages. Damages can cover medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
So, if you’re injured the next time a big storm hits New York because someone else acts irresponsibly, be prepared to contact a lawyer.