You're visiting a friend at her rented Georgia home. As you are leaving the residence, you break your ankle when you take a tumble on the shaky set of steps leading up to the porch.
It's a bad break, necessitating surgery, rehab and many days off of work. Your wallet takes a big hit from this easily preventable injury. Do you have recourse to recover any of your expenses?
Property owners liable
It's quite likely that you do. The property owner, as a landlord, has a legal duty to insure that their property remains free of structural and other hazards. If a tenant or one of their guests winds up hurt on the property due to the landlord's or property manager's neglect to repair the structure, that individual could be legally liable for the damages that result from the maintenance lapse.
Property must be maintained
When someone is injured on a rental property due to a lack of repairs or maintenance, in most circumstances, the liability for the victim's injuries falls on the property owner. It is their duty to make sure that the property is habitable, which means that a broken set of stairs should be quickly fixed to avoid a problem.
Some repairs must be made at once in order to bring the property back in compliance with local, state or federal codes. These could include repairs to heating or cooling systems or the residence's plumbing system.
Neglecting to timely repair the facilities of a home can have several legal consequences, including the party who suffered injuries from the lapse filing a premises liability lawsuit against the owner and/or property manager.
What to do after an injury
Of course, it is always better to avoid an injury by notifying the landlord of the problem than it is to seek compensation for your damages. But if the injury has already occurred, it is incumbent upon you to document not just your injuries but the negligent conditions that caused or significantly contributed to them.
That may mean taking a few snapshots of the rickety stairs and/or missing handrails and obtaining the names and contact information of the residents and any witnesses to your fall. This information will prove invaluable to your personal injury attorney when they are preparing your claim for damages.