Falls in lobbies and stairwells of apartment buildings and condominiums can cause life-altering injuries. If you are a victim of a fall, you may need guidance to understand your rights and legal options. In Louisiana, there are specific rules about when a victim can sue after a fall injury in a shared part of the premises, such as a lobby or stairwell.
Louisiana law stipulates that the legal recourse for a victim depends on:
- where the incident occurred,
- what the circumstances were,
- how well-maintained the structure was,
- whether the landlord or property manager knew there was something dangerous about the structure,
- and if they tried to reasonably fix and/or warn the victim about any danger.
The best way to understand your rights after a fall is to contact the Louisiana slip and fall attorneys at Dudley Debosier. Our experienced personal injury lawyers can walk you through the next steps for your case and help you with legal issues regarding your injury.
Fall victims’ rights are governed under premises liability law in Louisiana. Landlords and property managers are required to keep buildings in good condition and exercise reasonable care towards tenants and visitors regarding hazards on the property.
This includes routine maintenance to make themselves aware of any potential dangers, fixing known hazardous conditions, and posting signs to warn property visitors of dangers.
When a landlord or property manager fails to fix hazards on a property that they knew existed or should have reasonably been aware of, you may be able to take legal action against them.
The most common fall injuries are due to hazards such as:
- Wet Floors: Floors that have standing water from a leak, spill, or that have been recently cleaned pose a slip hazard. Landlords should have maintenance workers remove the water or place a warning sign alerting tenants to the potential danger to prevent injury.
- Poor Lighting: Poor lighting in areas with uneven steps or difficult inclines can easily cause a trip and fall injury. These areas should have enough illumination so visitors can easily spot obstacles, reflective tape, signs around areas with steps, or warning signs about unexpectedly steep areas. Property owners can also be held liable when visitors are victims of crimes if the property has negligent security, including inadequate lighting, and the property owner knows such crime is likely.
- Broken Stairs and Railings: Louisiana State law requires landlords to keep buildings in good condition. Failing to fix broken stairs or loose railings can make them liable if someone is injured falling on an area that should have been repaired.
Work with a personal injury attorney from Dudley DeBosier. Your attorney can help you show:
The Existence of an Unreasonably Dangerous Condition or Hazard
To take legal action against the owner, person, or entity with custody and control over the property, you must prove the existence of an unreasonably dangerous condition or hazard that the defendant knew existed but was not a conspicuous danger to you.
You can prove your injury occurred due to a structural defect on the landlord’s property with photos or video of the scene, measurements, witness statements, or other evidence.
The Property Owner Knew of the Danger
It could be possible that the owner was unaware of the danger. For example, if it was due to a liquid on the floor that was only present for a short period of time before the victim slipped and fell, the owner may not have known about it and may not be responsible. Speaking with others who visit or live in the building can establish how long the problem was apparent and how frequently others had to deal with the issue.
If the issue had been there awhile, the landlord or tenant should have been aware of it and fixed it or warned of it.
The Owner Did Not Fix or Warn of the Hazard
If you can establish that the owner was aware of the problem, you next need to prove that they had sufficient time to fix it but failed to take action.
For example, if the hazard was caused by standing water after a heavy downpour, the landlord may not have had enough time to remove the water or place a sign. However, it could also be a recurring and known problem due to a leak, and the owner has repeatedly failed to do anything.
Your Injuries Were a Direct Result of the Owner’s Negligence
The most important part of a property liability case is to prove that your injuries directly resulted from the landlord or tenant’s negligence. You can do this by establishing they had previous knowledge of the hazard and failed to take steps to fix it or adequately warn people of the potential danger.
Speaking to an experienced Louisiana slip and fall attorney can help you understand if you have a case against a negligent landlord (or tenant) and how best to build a body of evidence.
If you are injured in a slip and fall injury you feel was due to negligence, you have one year to file a claim under state law CC 3492. Typically, you will only file a claim when your injuries result from clear negligence by the landlord or tenant, and you incur significant medical expenses.
To file a claim, you must establish who owns and is responsible for the property. If your injury is in a common area, you can file a claim with the landlord’s property insurance. If you sustain an injury as a visitor inside a tenant’s unit, you can file a claim with their renters’ insurance, and if the landlord knew of the problem, the landlord’s insurance.
Filing a claim requires you to submit copies of your medical records, including exam results and X-rays, as well as the doctor’s testimony about the nature of the injuries. If there were CCTV or doorbell cameras present, your attorney may be able to get a copy to use for your claim.
If you sustained an injury due to a slip or trip and fall, contact Dudley Debosier. We can help you explore your rights and legal options for your case by reviewing the incident and applying relevant premises liability laws. Our experienced team can help you understand who might be liable and how best to approach your case.
Schedule a free case review with us today with an online request, or call one of our office locations throughout Louisiana.
This content has been reviewed by Faye Sheets, Associate Attorney with Dudley DeBosier.
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