You may be able to sue an apartment complex for a slip and fall. If you slipped and fell at an apartment complex, whether in your apartment or another area of the complex, you may have grounds for recovery against a landlord. To succeed with a premises liability case against apartment complexes, you must be able to prove liability.
What Must Be Proven in a Slip and Fall Case in Illinois?
If you sustain injuries in a slip and fall accident anywhere at your apartment complex, you may be able to sue the landlord for all damages sustained, including a combination of economic and non-economic damages. Your case may involve a slip and fall that took place in your unit or elsewhere on the premises, but you must show how the landlord was liable to succeed with a slip and fall case.
The rules of slip and fall cases are like those in other negligence cases. Injury victims need to show that the liable party was negligent and that this negligence led to an accident and subsequent damages.
Specifically, you will need to prove the following items after sustaining slip and fall injuries on rental property:
- The landlord owed a “duty of care” to you as a tenant or visitor, including the need for the landlord to properly maintain the apartment complex
- The landlord breached this duty of care by failing to act reasonably to keep the rental property safe
- This breach of duty contributed to a slip and fall accident and resulting damages
In proving these items, you must show that the landlord was aware of a condition that rendered the property unsafe and failed to take the appropriate steps to mitigate the risk of a slip and fall accident.
When Are Landlords Legally Responsible for Slip-and-Fall Injuries?
Depending on the circumstances leading to a slip and fall, landlords may be liable for any injuries and other damages resulting from the accident. However, this isn’t always the case, as landlords might not have known or have been able to know about the hazards in time to prevent the accident.
Consider the circumstances that can surround slip and falls in apartments and common areas:
Slip and Fall Accidents in Apartments
There are situations that can lead to slip and falls in individual apartments. For example, a pipe under your kitchen sink might leak and cause water to spill on the floor overnight. You may then walk into the kitchen in the middle of the night and not notice the puddle of water on the floor, causing a slip and fall. In this case, the landlord wouldn’t be liable unless he or she should have been aware of the risk of a leak and didn’t take the necessary steps to prevent it. Otherwise, the landlord wouldn’t be liable if he or she was unable to anticipate the accident.
One way a landlord might be responsible for a slip and fall is if you notify him or her of the issue and the landlord fails to acknowledge or address it. In this case, the landlord should have taken the necessary steps to resolve the issue before a slip and fall or another accident could occur.
Slip and Falls Accidents in Common Areas
If a slip and fall accident occurs in an apartment complex’s common area, tenants won’t typically be responsible, making the landlord the negligent party in most of these cases. Landlords must do what they can to regularly inspect common areas and eliminate hazards that might lead to accidents and injuries. Common areas involved in slip and fall accidents may include apartment stairs, hallways, courtyards, and other spaces.
Depending on the circumstances, the landlord may not be liable if an accident occurs in a common area. Other parties, such as maintenance staff and building engineers, may be responsible if they fail to perform the necessary tasks under the direction of the landlord. For example, a landlord may become aware of a leaking ceiling in an apartment hallway causing a puddle and order a maintenance crew to make the necessary repairs. If the maintenance crew fails to properly repair the ceiling, and the resulting leak causes a slip and fall, the maintenance crew would be liable.
Types of Slip and Fall Injuries
Slip and fall accidents can result in many types of injuries ranging from mild to severe or even life-threatening, depending on the position the person lands in, the condition of the floor or ground, and the height of the fall.
The following are some common injuries from slip and falls that victims may sustain:
Broken and Fractured Bones
Bone breaks and fractures can occur in a slip and fall accident. Often, people break their hips, legs, arms, shoulders, ribs, and collarbones in these types of accidents, requiring long periods of recovery in many cases.
People may fall and land on their necks, potentially leading to serious injuries such as damage to the neck muscles, broken neck bones, or spinal cord injuries. Neck injuries may also result when the body suddenly moves violently, jerking the neck forward or backward and causing injuries similar to whiplash.
Lacerations and Cuts
Slip and falls often cause cuts and lacerations when people land on hazardous, sharp objects such as metal, glass, and debris. These injuries can cause superficial damage and scarring to the skin, along with deeper injuries to everything from muscles and organs to bones.
Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injuries
Victims of slip and fall accidents also frequently sustain concussions and other more serious forms of traumatic brain injury (TBI). These injuries usually develop when a victim’s head makes contact with the ground, but they can also result from the violent movement of the body during the fall.
TBIs are among the most serious injuries in a slip and fall, as they can lead to permanent, extensive brain damage that significantly affects a person’s quality of life.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The movement of the body and collisions with the ground or other objects can contribute to a spinal cord injury in a fall. These injuries might be complete or incomplete, and they can cause permanent partial or total paralysis, often in the form of paraplegia or quadriplegia.
These are some of the many types of injuries that can result from a slip and fall accident. Other injuries include knee and ankle injuries, facial injuries, and injuries to the elbows, shoulders, and wrists.
Steps to Follow After a Slip and Fall at an Apartment Complex
If you or a loved one get into a slip and fall accident and believe a landlord or another party is liable for the resulting injuries, you may be able to file a claim or suit against the negligent party responsible and recover full compensation.
The key is to take the right steps to increase your chances of succeeding. Some steps to take include:
Capture Evidence to Support Your Case
One of the most important steps to take is to collect sufficient evidence to prove that a liable party is responsible for the slip and fall hazard and subsequent accident. Evidence in these cases often includes a combination of photos and video footage. For instance, you can take photos of the hazard and your injuries at the scene of the accident. You may also collect footage from nearby CCTV cameras or other sources if the accident occurred in a common area.
Other evidence could include correspondence with landlords, witness statements, medical records, and proof of lost income resulting from the inability to return to work during recovery.
This evidence may help prove that the hazard was already in place and difficult to avoid at the time of the accident. It may also show how landlords and others acted negligently and caused the accident.
Seek Medical Care
Even if your injuries appear minor immediately after the accident, don’t hesitate to seek treatment. Seeing a doctor can give you a formal diagnosis of your injuries and help you begin the recovery process. It can also generate medical records and bills that may support other evidence in a slip and fall case.
Consult an Attorney
If you want to find out how to win your slip and fall injury case, another key step is to consult a lawyer. An experienced slip and fall attorney may be able to assess your case and determine whether a landlord or another party was liable for your accident. He or she may then help navigate the claims or legal process to recover total compensation.
With the right approach to your case, you may be able to sue your landlord or others for a slip and fall at an apartment complex.