Personal injury lawsuits for injuries at an apartment complex in San Francisco are common.
Yet identifying where apartment complex injury liability rests can be a challenge.
Who is liable for injuries at an apartment complex in California? Several entities may be liable.
These can include apartment complex owners, third-party contractors, product manufactures, the property management company, professional service providers, and the tenant.
California’s Premises Liability Laws
In California, premises liability law governs most injury claims at an apartment complex. Premises liability law is based on negligence.
To establish premises liability, the plaintiff must prove the following elements:
- The defendant owned, leased, occupied, or controlled the property;
- The defendant was negligent in the use or maintenance of the property;
- The plaintiff was harmed; and
- The defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s harm.
Property owners are not liable for all apartment injuries. A court will evaluate the plaintiff’s role in the injury. But, the property owner must use reasonable care in maintaining the property.
Parties Who May Have Apartment Complex Injury Liability
Circumstances dictate which parties may be liable for injuries at an apartment complex. An injured person may file a lawsuit when injured on another’s property.
The individual may file a lawsuit against the person who leases, owns, occupies, or controls the property.
California law does not require the individual or company to own, possess, and control the property to be subject to a claim for liability. In some cases, multiple parties could be liable for the injuries.
A Guest’s Injuries Inside an Apartment
If a guest’s injury occurs due to the tenant’s moveable furnishings, then the apartment tenant is likely liable.
In other cases, a landlord or owner may be liable for a guest’s injury. Features such as doors, walls, or windows, are the landlord or owner’s responsibility.
A Tenant’s Injuries Inside an Apartment
A landlord must conduct a reasonable inspection before the tenant takes possession. The landlord must resolve unsafe conditions discovered before the tenant moves in.
The landlord is also responsible for unsafe conditions that should have been discovered. The landlord can be liable if the they fail to make the required repairs.
A landlord generally cannot be liable for injuries caused by dangerous conditions that occur after the tenant moves in.
Exceptions to this rule include: (1) when the landlord had actual knowledge of the dangerous condition and the right to repair it and (2) when the injury occurred in a common area controlled by the landlord.
Injuries Sustained in Communal Areas
Injuries happen to both guests and tenants in an apartment complex’s communal areas. Communal areas can include:
- Common hallways,
- Fitness centers,
- Laundry rooms,
- Elevators, and
- Parking lots.
Slip-and-falls, injuries due to inadequate security, and elevator injuries, are some of the most common.
If an injury is due to the owner’s failure to maintain the common area, the injury is the responsibility of the owner.
Liability for injuries in common areas is not limited to the apartment owner. For example, if the injury is due to a flaw in building design, the architect or building contractor may be liable.
If poorly maintained sidewalks caused the injury, the grounds maintenance company could be liable.
A product manufacturer may share liability if a defective product in the common area caused injury. Assigning liability for an injury claim at an apartment complex can become complicated.
To hold any party liable for an injury, the injured person must file the claim in time. California law applies a two-year statute of limitations for premises liability claims.
That means if you file your claim more than two years after the accident, you will likely be barred from recovering compensation.
However, there are limited exceptions to this deadline. Your attorney can help you determine whether any may apply in your situation.
Consult an Experienced California Apartment Complex Injury Liability Lawyer
Establishing apartment complex injury liability is just one component to a personal injury lawsuit.
The Law Office of Chuck Geerhart will help determine which parties are potentially liable for an injury at an apartment complex and ensure that you are best positioned to get the compensation you deserve.
By limiting our caseload to a small number of cases at a time, the Law Office of Chuck Geerhart is able to provide the best possible legal representation and the highest level of client service.
Contact us online or call today to schedule a consultation.