Cities like Baltimore have thousands of rental properties. Many of them are dilapidated and even dangerous to residents. Often tenants pay the price of a landlord’s neglect by falling on crumbling steps or uneven floors. Our attorneys are periodically asked the question ‘can you sue a landlord for slip and fall in Maryland?’
Actions against landlords are premises liability cases. You can sue a landlord for slip and fall in Maryland in certain circumstances. Baltimore slip and fall attorney Randolph Rice explains when you are able to sue a landlord for slips and falls on a rental property or apartment in Maryland.
When Can You File a Lawsuit Against a Landlord for Injuries in Maryland?
The success of claims for slip and fall injuries in Maryland can depend on where the accident occurred. Injuries sustained inside a residence are typically more difficult to pin on a landlord than those in communal areas.
Claims can be brought against your landlord for slip and fall injuries in Maryland if the injury:
- Occurs in a common area such as a hallway or stairs to an apartment;
- Defects and problems were present at the time the lease was signed;
- The landlord agreed to fix a condition that caused an injury but failed to do so.
Can You Sue for a Slip and Fall Injury in an Apartment or a Rental Home?
It’s difficult to sue a landlord in Maryland for a slip and fall injury inside a home. If you failed to make the landlord aware of the problem, holding him accountable will be challenging. However, even if you warned a landlord of broken stairs or another trip hazard in your home, the landlord could later argue you knew about the hazard and were contributorily negligent because you fell over.
You may have grounds to sue a landlord for slip and fall in Maryland if you slip on water spilled in your apartment and you can later prove the landlord knew about major faults in the water system that caused the leak and the slip and fall injury.
Slip and fall cases are not easy to win. These are intricate cases that require in-depth legal knowledge. Tenants have less protection for hazards inside their homes than shoppers at a store or guests at a hotel.
Suing a Landlord for a Slip and Fall in Common Areas in Maryland
If you slip and fall in a communal area, your case is likely to be stronger against your landlord. Common scenarios include:
Slip and Falls on Defective Stairs
If stairs are broken or defective, they may violate Maryland building codes. The victim has a strong case when the landlord fails to comply with codes. This may be obvious in the case of broken railing but features like ramps or decks may not have been built to the relevant codes. The City of Baltimore has strict codes for stairways, railings, balconies, decks and other places that pose potential fall hazards. The 1971 Court of Appeals of Maryland case of Blankenship v. Wagner established that the outside back steps to a home were in the exclusive control of the owner of the property, even though many people probably used them.
Slips on Substances on Stairs
If you fall on and get injured on a substance spilled on the exterior stairs of an apartment complex or another rental property, it’s tough to win your case. Many landlords are nor physically on the premises. However, if the landlord was informed of the danger and failed to rectify it, your case is stronger. Apartment complexes are meant to have maintenance staff who can clean up spills and other hazards.
Trips or Falls Over Debris and Objects
If you trip on debris left by a builder or another contractor working for the landlord, you may have grounds to sue the landlord for your injuries. The landlord has a duty to keep public areas clear of obstructions. Cases in Maryland establish the fact the injured party may not be partially to blame for an injury if he or she failed to see an obstruction. However, if he was failing to pay attention or distracted because he was texting, he may have contributed to his injuries.
Snow and Ice on Sidewalks and Walkways
If you slip on snow or ice outside your rental home, you almost certainly hurt yourself on your landlord’s property but was he responsible for the injuries? Often the landlord’s liabilities depend on the terms of your lease. If the lease says the landlord is responsible for clearing snow, you may have grounds to sue the landlord if you slipped and suffered an injury.
Hazards Outside the Entrance of a Rental Property
The 1982 Court of Special Appeals of Maryland case of Rountree v. Lerner found an apartment dweller has a right to enter and leave their own building in a safe manner. The jury must decide if the tenant assumed the risk if ice was present. In this case Ginger Rountree, slipped and fell over on a step covered with ice when leaving her apartment in the University Square Garden Apartments in Greenbelt, Maryland. She broke her left shoulder and suffered extensive damage to her right knee cartilage. She sued the owner and the operator of the apartments.
Although Ms. Roundtree was aware of the presence of snow and ice and was carefully negotiating the steps, she ended up falling over. The judges ruled in her favor because she “had a right to egress from her apartment. She had a right to assume that the landlord would take all appropriate steps to make safe egress possible.” The justices said there was no evidence of a “reasonably safe alternative” open to the slip and fall victim to leave her home.
Defective Escalators and Elevators
You can sue a landlord for a slip and fall in Maryland if an escalator or an elevator malfunctions. Slip and fall accidents can happen when escalators or elevators stop suddenly, throwing riders forward. Other possible defendants in a slip and fall lawsuit include the manufacturer of an escalator or an elevator, a maintenance company or a building manager. According to the Center to Protect Workers’ Rights in Silver Spring, Maryland, accidents involving escalators and elevators kill about 30 people every year and injure about 17,000. Our Baltimore escalator injury lawyer can help you navigate these claims.
Talk to a Maryland Slip and Fall Lawyer about Lawsuits Against Landlords
Slip and fall accidents can be serious. They are particularly hazardous for elderly people whose bones break more easily than younger people. Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries. Unfortunately, the insurance industry is often dismissive of the seriousness of slip and all accidents. Insurance adjusters will attempt to lowball a potential settlement. They will also point out how difficult it can be to pin liability on a landlord. However, tenants are often exploited. They are forced to live in unsafe and unsanitary conditions and can suffer ill health from mold and lead paint and the risk of slip and fall injuries. Talk to our Baltimore personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an injury at (410) 431-0911.