A caution sign on the floor of a cafe warning of potential slips and falls.When you are injured in a slip and fall accident, the property owner can be considered responsible in situations where their negligence failed to prevent, address, or properly warn against the hazard that hurt you.

In situations where your accident occurred on a rental property, however, the question of who is at fault depends on the nature of the hazard that hurt you. Tenants are responsible for the general condition of their own unit, so if the hazard was something like a toy left by a child, that tenant is likely to be responsible for the injury, not the landlord.

However, the landlord is responsible in most situations when the hazard is related to a flaw in the building or a general failure to exercise the expected level of care to keep the property safe.

One thing you can almost always count on is that property owners will do everything in their power to avoid liability for your medical bills and other resulting damages. Hiring an experienced lawyer to handle your case gives you the knowledge and resources needed to fully examine the situation and determine who, exactly, could be at fault.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to our experienced Connecticut slip and fall lawyers at Bert McDowell Injury Law when you have been injured. Call (203) 590-9169 or contact us online to schedule a free case review today.

When Is the Property Owner Responsible for a Slip and Fall Accident?

Slip and fall injuries are disturbingly common, and the overwhelming majority of them could be prevented. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, over a million people visit the emergency room each year because of slip and fall injuries, accounting for 12% of all fall visits total.

These accidents can be particularly dangerous to the old and the very young, potentially leading to traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, or even organ damage. Slip and fall injuries even have the potential to be fatal.

Generally speaking, property owners and landlords hold the highest level of responsibility when it comes to the safety of their premises. Their duty of care to tenants and visitors alike tasks them with regularly inspecting, maintaining, and improving properties, as needed, in order to identify and remove any dangerous conditions.

In the event that a dangerous condition is necessary to the functioning of the property โ€” such as a transformer unit placed upon the ground or a buried power cable running from it โ€” then the property owner has a duty of care to visibly warn others in order to avoid a serious accident.

Examples of dangerous property conditions that can potentially be considered the fault of the landlord include:

  • Collapsing stairs
  • Stairs, landings, and overlooks without adequate guard rails
  • Cords, ropes, and other lines that could become tripping hazards (must be buried or taped down and clearly marked)
  • Unexpected changes in surface elevation, such as from the sidewalk to the landing in an apartment complex
  • Improper lighting, making tripping hazards invisible at night
  • Poorly maintained appliances and machinery leaking slippery fluids
  • Inadequate storage of cleaning supplies
  • Roof leaks
  • Loose carpets, rugs, and other fixtures installed by the property owner

When Could a Tenant or Occupant Be Responsible for the Slip and Fall?

Since they do not own the property, tenants generally have a lower level of responsibility for accidents that happen in their homes or rented business units. More specifically, landlords are responsible for any dangerous condition involving the actual infrastructure of the property, including exterior grounds, common areas, building infrastructure, walls, roofs, walkways, appliances/machinery, and fixtures like lighting and fire sprinklers.

They also have a responsibility to routinely inspect the property so that hazards do not emerge โ€” and are swiftly dealt with when they do. At the same time, occupants of the rented unit can create hazards of their own through everyday living.

They might, for example, run an extension cord from their front door to a fan on a breezeway. If they forget about this cord, and someone trips, then they could be responsible for the accident.

In the above example, landlords may still hold responsibility in part or in full if they do not have a policy in place explicitly forbidding such activities. Therefore, it is always prudent to fully evaluate the legal questions raised in your case with the help of an experienced attorney.

Hazards that could be introduced by a tenant or occupant include:

  • Belongings left out in common areas
  • Tripping hazards in the unit that pose threats to visitors, such as loose rugs or general clutter
  • Fluids left over from spills, cleaning, or improper storage of chemicals
  • Small animals or children prone to darting unexpectedly underneath feet
  • Loose flooring or other hazardous infrastructure damaged by gross negligence of the unit

Can a Maintenance Company, Lawn Company, or Other Third Party Be Responsible for a Slip and Fall?

Generally speaking, the person or business entity that introduced the hazard is responsible for its effects. With that said, it is also the responsibility of the property owner to supervise service providers and provide policies that prevent the most common types of hazards from taking place.

If, for example, a hired landscaping company is allowed to snake hoses through a condo complex on a regular basis, the property owner may be considered liable, in part or in full, because of their failure to prevent the hazard.

How Do I Seek Compensation After I’m Hurt in a Slip and Fall Accident?

Nearly all property owners have the good sense to hold onto a general liability policy in the event that their negligence causes injuries. These policies pay for the medical bills, lost wages, personal pain and suffering, and out-of-pocket expenses suffered by the accident victim.

Similarly, contract service providers (e.g., a lawn maintenance company) carry their own liability policies in the case of such an accident.

Tenants of a rental property can opt to obtain liability insurance through a renters’ insurance policy. This policy would pay for the costs of any injury resulting from a dangerous condition the tenant introduced or allowed to develop through their own negligence.

However, such policies are rare: just 55% of renters purchase renters’ insurance. Of these, 75% were explicitly required by their landlord.

When multiple parties are responsible for the same hazardous condition, then they may split liability according to their portion of respective blame.

What if I’m Accused of Partial Fault for My Accident?

Connecticut law (CGS ยง52-572h(b)) allows for someone to still bring forth an injury claim even if their own actions contributed to the circumstances of their injury.

For example, if someone was wearing snow-covered boots at the time they slipped in a common area where a spill took place, they could be deemed partially responsible for their own loss of traction (although it would be highly debatable). In the event they are deemed partially responsible, then their total award or settlement value would be reduced by the assigned percentage of fault.

Liable parties will often use this statute to reduce their exposure to liability. The risk of this happening is one major reason to strongly consider hiring an experienced Connecticut slip and fall accident law firm to represent you on your claim.

What Does It Mean for a Dangerous Condition to Be “Foreseeable”?

Another common defense at-fault parties will use to try and avoid liability is to allege that they had no way of knowing that the hazard existed. In other words, they posit that the dangerous condition was not “foreseeable.”

In cases where the slip and fall accident was the result of completely random or unpredictable circumstances, such as a chemical spill on a nearby roadway, then the property owner must be given a reasonable amount of time to discover and correct (or warn against) the hazard before they can be considered responsible. Similarly, if they fulfilled their duty of care to inspect and maintain the property but still had an unexpected condition arise, then they may not be considered responsible for the hazard.

Your attorney will help you analyze your accident’s circumstances in order to determine the origin of the hazard, how long it was allowed to persist, and whether specific statutes or general expectations of property owners dictate how the condition should have been addressed. Bert McDowell Injury Law will never take such liability defenses at face value, and we will always fight on your behalf to exhaust every option for pursuing the full extent of damages from which you have suffered.

Reach Out to a Passionate and Dedicated Connecticut Injury Law Firm

Whether you live at the unit where your accident occurred, went inside as a contract services provider, or were merely visiting, the fact that you were hurt matters greatly from a legal standpoint. Our job as your representing attorneys will be to leave no stone unturned when it comes to pursuing a settlement for 100% of your injury costs.

Bert McDowell Injury Law has helped thousands of Connecticut locals and out-of-towners in their pursuit of rightful compensation.

Our team moves quickly to help you investigate your accident, identify all liable parties, estimate your damages, and pursue a claim for a reasonable settlement. We are willing to file a lawsuit against liable parties and take them to court if that’s what it takes to go after the money you need to recover.

Find out more about how our Connecticut personal injury law firm can help you and what your case might be worth when you call (203) 590-9169 or contact us online to schedule your free, confidential case evaluation.