Landlords can in fact be held liable for slip and fall injuries in the state of Utah. If someone becomes injured at a commercial or residential property – and the owner of said property was responsible for creating or allowing the existence of the unsafe conditions which caused the injury – then the victim may have legal recourse.
When Is a Landlord Liable for a Slip and Fall?
The legal theory of premises liability holds that landlords are liable for injuries caused by their own negligence. The landlord may have negligently created a risk of injury by performing repairs incorrectly, by failing to prevent their dog from biting someone, or by concealing a dangerous condition from their tenant before giving them possession of the property. Likewise, if the landlord was aware that ice or another slipping hazard existed on their property – and a tenant was injured as the result of that hazard – then they may be held liable for the victim’s injury.
(It is important to note that a landlord is unlikely to be held liable for a hazard within the tenant’s own apartment, unless the tenant previously notified the landlord of the issue before sustaining an injury as the result of said hazard. Slip and fall lawsuits are typically filed over injuries the defendants sustained in apartment buildings’ common areas, such as hallways, stairways and stoops.)
The core concept underlying premises liability is negligence. Negligence constitutes a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. Negligence may consist of an action, such as knowingly using defective materials to perform repairs inside an apartment building. Negligence may also consist of a failure to take an appropriate action, such as removing ice that accumulated on an apartment building’s front steps.
When Is a Landlord Negligent in a Slip and Fall Lawsuit?
If you wish to sue your landlord for a slip and fall injury in Utah, you must validate your claim by proving your landlord’s negligence. Negligence typically includes four elements: duty, breach of duty, causation and damages. As such, the plaintiff’s burden of proof for a premises liability case normally includes the following:
- The defendant (in this case the landlord) owned or leased the property where the injury took place;
- The defendant had a duty to take reasonable measures to minimize or eliminate the hazard which caused the injury;
- The defendant was negligent by failing to take those reasonable measures; and
- The defendant’s negligence was the direct cause of (or a significant factor contributing to) the plaintiff’s injuries.
It is crucial to note that you do not have an unlimited amount of time with which to file a premises liability lawsuit. Utah Code § 78B-2-307 gives a plaintiff four years to seek restitution in civil court for a personal injury. The clock begins counting down on the date the injury took place.
What Can a Landlord Be Held Liable for in a Slip and Fall Lawsuit?
People who slip and fall commonly suffer from cuts, sprains, bone fractures, broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and injuries to their knees and spinal cords. If the landlord is held liable for the plaintiff’s slip and fall, then they may be legally obligated to pay any medical expenses the plaintiff incurs as the result of such injuries. Moreover, the landlord may have to compensate the plaintiff for any income they lost as the result of becoming injured, as well as their pain and suffering.
What Should You Do If You Have a Slip and Fall Injury in Your Apartment Building?
If you slip, fall and become injured in your apartment building, seek immediate medical attention. In addition to creating your best chance of a full recovery, doing so will help to establish credibility in the event you decide to file a lawsuit.
If you are capable of photographing or otherwise documenting the hazard which caused you to fall, do. Request contact information from anyone who witnessed your fall or came to your assistance. If possible, formally request security footage of the area where you fell.
File an official injury report with the apartment building’s landlord or management, even if they do not request you to. Make certain to go into the greatest possible detail, as that will also help to establish credibility during a potential lawsuit. No details are irrelevant, however insignificant they might seem.
Under no condition should you make a statement directly to the landlord or their insurance provider. An insurance adjuster is likely to contact you. In that event, politely refuse to make any statement regarding the incident. Furthermore, do not make any posts on social media about the incident. The landlord and their attorney may use that information against you in court.
If you live in the greater Logan, Utah area and have recently become the victim of someone else’s negligence, you deserve an attorney who will stand up for your rights. We welcome you to contact Hillyard, Anderson & Olsen today. Our clients’ best interests are the only interests we have at heart.