Tenant Wins Negligence Case Against Landlord: Her Attorney Explains Why

by | Dec 13, 2010 | Rental Property Management Tips

Landlord Negligence Leads to Tenant Injury, $350,000 Pay Out

A landlord has agreed to pay $350,000 to a tenant who was injured when she fell down the stairs.

According to the woman’s attorney, residents of the New York City apartment complex complained to the landlord about construction debris left in the way after a repair. The woman was on her way to work when she slipped on something greasy, and fell several steps with her foot bent backwards.

The woman had to undergo surgery for her broken ankle, and required months of physical therapy. The permanent damage to her ankle made it impossible for her to return to her job.

Personal injury attorney Carol Schlitt, who was named one of the top personal injury attorneys in New York by New York Super Lawyers magazine, negotiated the settlement for the tenant. Schlitt posted the outcome on her blog, and also shares insights about the case that could help other landlords avoid similar situations.

Schlitt explains that for a tenant to prove a case of negligence for slip and fall, they have to prove that the landlord contributed to the fall, and that the fall caused injury.

A crucial fact in this case came from testimony that a number of other tenants had complained about the condition of the stairway. Additionally, another tenant took a video of the stairwell immediately after the woman’s fall and before the ambulance arrived. Schlitt attributes the technology of camera and video phones, like iPhones, for greatly aiding her prosecution of personal injury cases.

Her objective as a tenant’s attorney is to do more than win a case for a client, but to maximize the recovery.

In this case, Schlitt spent considerable time compiling and analyzing evidence regarding the injury and other losses suffered after the fall, and worked on ways to present that information in a persuasive way. She also located and interviewed witnesses as soon after the event as possible and compiled and reviewed medical records. That information was then crafted into a comprehensive settlement package and presented to the insurance company.

When the insurance company declined to settle, Schlitt immediately turned up the heat by filing a lawsuit and rigorously preparing for trial. She began scheduling depositions.

This prompted renewed interest in a settlement. The landlord’s side suggested mediation, and that process yielded a settlement. The woman was happy with the amount offered in settlement and the fact that, due to the early resolution of the case, she would receive her judgment about two years before the estimated time for trial. The landlord was able to resolve the case without incurring the additional expenses needed to mount a legal defense.

Stairwell injuries are a common source of negligence claims against landlords. An effective system for supervising contractors performing repairs, and performing routine inspections of the rental property can help curb these claims.

Responding to tenant complaints quickly is also paramount in keeping tenants happy – and safe.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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