Our office recovered $75,000 for Tenant who Tripped on Uneven Hallway Floor.
A thirty-five year old woman, a tenant of the building she was living in, exited her apartment and tripped on the uneven hallway floor. The landlord had not repaired the uneven hallway floor even though the uneven floor had existed in this condition for a period of time.
The law in Illinois provides that the landlord has a duty to maintain the condition of common areas of the building. Common areas are generally those areas of the building that are used by all the tenants. If the landlord fails to repair or maintain the common areas, and a tenant in injured as the result of that failure to repair, the landlord can be held liable to for the injuries sustained by the tenant.
The insurance carrier will however attempt to escape liability, even in cases where liability would seem clear. The insurance company will first claim that the tenant never told the landlord of the dangerous condition. That is, the landlord will simply claim that he was simply unaware of the uneven floor. This is not a good defense, since actual notice of the dangerous condition is not required if the landlord created the condition, or had constructive notice of the condition or should have known of the condition. The landlord has a duty to discover the defective condition and to correct or repair the defective condition.
The insurance company will next claim the tenant herself was negligent. After all, the tenant most likely knew of the dangerous condition prior to the injury. And, the tenant was able to avoid the dangerous condition for days, weeks, sometimes months prior to the incident. The landlord will simply argue that the dangerous condition was open and obvious. This is a very common defense by landlords. And, on this particular occasion, the tenant may have been further negligent by rushing or not being particularly careful. The insurance company will rely on yet another legal theory, the doctrine of comparative negligence. That is, sometimes both parties can be at fault and liability should be allocated to both parties relative to their degree of fault. Using the theory of comparative negligence, the recovery to the tenant, if any, can be reduced to half.
There is yet another legal theory that the tenant can use to his defense. That is, there is an exception to the doctrine of open and obvious if the tenant was distracted when she fell. Many times the tenant will be distracted at the time of the incident. This is a valid exception to the doctrine of open and obvious if this tenants’ distraction was reasonable.
If you are injured due to the negligence of your landlord, do not try to resolve these legal issues without an attorney. Call the Law Offices of Charles J. Gale.