Accidents that happen on privately owned property fall under the responsibility of the land or property owner. In cases of private residences, it is the homeowner that’s responsible and you may have to deal with homeowner's insurance in a slip and fall case. When the accident occurs on a rental property however, the lines of responsibility are a little less clear. There are however some general rules that usually apply when the private property is a rental property as well.
Landlord vs. Renter Liabilities
More often than not, slip and fall accidents that happen on rental properties are the responsibility of the property owner or landlord rather than the tenant or renter. Where on the property the accident happens affects who is responsible.
Slip and fall accidents that happen outside an apartment are almost exclusively the responsibility of the landlord. Those that occur inside an apartment are usually the responsibility of the renter or tenant instead.
There are exceptions to these general rules. If an accident happens outside an apartment because of damage or disrepair the renter caused but did not report to the landlord, then the renter may be liable for your injuries. At the very least, he or she may share fault with the landlord, who is still ultimately responsible for the property.
Slip and Fall Accident Scenarios on Privately Owned Property
The details of every accident are different. Some are clearly the fault of the landlord or renter, while in others you may be unsure whether or not you have an accident claim. After all, not all accidents happen because of negligence, but negligence is required in order for a personal injury claim to be filed.
Here are a few scenarios to help you better understand the concept of negligence in slip and fall cases that happen on private property, including the responsible party for injuries that occur in each situation:
- If you slip and fall because of a structural concern like uneven stairs or a floor that’s wet because of a leaky pipe, then the landlord is typically liable.
- If your accident is caused by a slick hallway floor inside an apartment building that was recently mopped by a janitor, then the landlord or property owner would be liable if the janitor failed to put “wet floor” signs in place, warning you to use caution.
- When a slip and fall accident happens inside of an apartment due to some kind of structural problem the renter was aware of but did not inform his or her landlord about, then the renter may be partially at fault for your injuries. The landlord will likely still be held liable as well, since the property owner is legally responsible for the building’s condition.
- Slip and fall accidents that occur because of issues the renter creates, like debris lying about on the lawn of a rental house or water collected on a bathroom floor because of a shower they busted and didn’t fix or report to their landlord, then the renter can be liable.
When an accident occurs in any of these circumstances, a claim should be filed with the insurance company of the landlord/property owner but the tenant or renter may also be named in your claim. Usually, it’s the insurance company’s job to decide where fault lies, but you may need an attorney to argue negligence. They can help you determine liability, especially if a renter’s negligence is involved in the incident.