rental property

“Open and Obvious” Hazards in Rental Properties

This entry was posted in Personal Injury and tagged , on by .

Injuries are always a raw deal, but what happens when it was the type of accident that could have been avoided, or took place on a rental property? If you suffer an injury when in a rental property, either yours or that of someone you are visiting, you may want to consider seeking out financial damages from the landlord owning the property depending on any resultant injuries which you have suffered from the fall.

One interesting condition of this problem is when the hazard could be deemed “open and obvious”, meaning that anyone should have been able to tell that it was a hazard to begin with. There are two sides to this coin: on one hand, the landlord ought to have fixed the problem, since it was such an obvious issue. On the other hand, you should have been able to notice the hazard and go out of your way to avoid an injury as well! So when you suffer a slip and fall or trip accident on someone’s property due to a hazardous condition, who is to blame? Are you, or is the owner responsible? Let’s go and take a closer look.

In New York state, there is something known as premises liability law, and in this legislation it requires a landlord to keep their property reasonably safe. If they fail to do so and an individual presses their claim to the court, the court will then examine if the landlord took appropriate action towards reducing the hazard, if applicable. Sometimes, the courts will determine that if the hazard was ‘open and obvious’, meaning that a reasonable individual would be able to see the issue and avoid it, that the landlord was under no legal obligation to improve the hazard. This can create a dangerous loophole sometimes exploited by certain landlords to ‘fix’ the problem in the cheapest and least labor intensive way possible.

One extreme example is if there is a broken stair railing that would make leaning on the railing unsafe, the landlord could theoretically just remove the railing so that it was a very obvious hazard. Yes, you would know not to lean on empty air, but would the lack of any railing at all make the walk even a slight bit safer? Not at all. Or if there was a leakage or spill, a wet floor sign would notify pedestrians of the risk for slipping, but instead of mopping up the area or causing it to be safer over all, they have simply moved the burden of seeking safety onto the individual most likely to be harmed. While it is a technical fix, it does nothing to improve the lives of those nearby.

The laws surrounding ‘open and obvious’ risks when it comes to liability are not airtight, and with an experienced attorney you may be able to prove that the landlord was indeed responsible for an accident that may have befallen you. For more information into my experience in this area, call me, Mark Yampaglia, today for a free phone consultation at 844-847-0106. I look forward to speaking with you soon!