Your landlord holds some responsibility for your safety. Most of the time, landlord liability stems from the condition of the building and the duty to make necessary repairs to protect tenants from dangerous conditions. But in addition, some landlords have been held liable for criminal acts by a third party. This would cover situations where a stranger comes onto the property and commits a crime against you.
In cases where a landlord has been held responsible for crimes that happen on their property, it’s often because they took safety measures but didn’t do a good job in doing so. It’s one of those aspects of the law that doesn’t always make sense. A landlord who does nothing to ward off crime usually has no responsibility if crime happens, but landlord who put up security cameras or installed extra lighting can be responsible if their safety measures fail.
In order to have a successful case against a landlord, you have to show that they owe you a duty of care. Once that is established, you have to prove that the duty was broken by their actions or inactions. As in any personal injury case, you also have to prove that you were harmed and that the harm was caused by the landlord’s breach of duty. Finally, you have to prove your damages, which is the amount of your suffering in monetary terms.
Many landlords carry insurance to protect them in the event of a lawsuit. This is good news because it means that there is money to collect, even if your landlord doesn’t have any assets of their own. The not-so-good news is that insurance companies are good at defending lawsuits because it’s how they make money. If you’re going up against an insurance company, having an experienced attorney preparing your case can make a big difference.
Injuries caused by criminals on your landlord’s property are personal injury cases (there may be a criminal case against the perpetrator, as well, but that is separate). In personal injury cases, attorneys charge on a contingency basis, which means that you pay out of your winnings at the end. You do not have to pay any fees upfront or as the case progresses. And if you lose, you won’t pay a fee.
If you have questions about landlord liability, either after a crime or in another type of injury, feel free to give us a call.
Written by Michael Helfand