One of the benefits of renting an apartment or office space is that there is a property owner, landlord, or management service to do repairs and keep the property maintained. When a lightbulb burns out in a stairway, the property owner is responsible for replacing it. When a stairway rail is loose, the property owner should fix it.
Unfortunately, not all property owners take their duty seriously to keep the property in a safe condition. When a landlord fails to adequately maintain the premises, it can result in injury to renters, tenants, or visitors. If someone is injured because of inadequate maintenance, the property owner may be liable for any damages.
A property owner, manager, or the insurance company may try and blame the accident on the victim. You have the right to compensation for injuries caused by another's negligence. The attorneys at accidentdenver.com will investigate your accident, deal with the landlord, and work to get you the maximum compensation after a premises injury accident. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Duty to Maintain Property
Adequate maintenance of premises is part of the property owner's duty to use reasonable care to protect against dangers of which he actually knew or should have known. As any property owner knows in Colorado, the weather, time, and daily wear and tear take their toll on the property. A responsible property owner will take note of the conditions on the property, monitor areas that may pose a safety concern, and fix any safety problems.
The duty to adequately maintain the premises is not limited to problems the property owner knew about but also applies to problems the owner should have known about. Ignorance of dangerous conditions or intentionally staying in the dark about property maintenance is not a defense when someone is injured on the property.
Common Areas of Premises Maintenance Injuries
There are a number of common areas where lack of proper maintenance can lead to safety issues, depending on the property. Some examples of maintenance duties may include:
- Replacing burnt out or broken lighting,
- Keeping stairs and steps in good repair,
- Ensuring handrails are secure,
- Replacing torn carpeting,
- Replacing broken tiles or flooring,
- Keeping walkways clear of debris,
- Cleaning up spills,
- Fixing leaking pipes or faucets,
- Ventilation and proper seals to prevent mold growth,
- Repairing broken HVAC systems,
- Maintaining elevators,
- Maintaining garage doors, and
- Garbage removal.
Liability of the Property Owner
Under Colorado Revised Statute (C.R.S.) § 13-21-115, property owners have a duty to visitors, tenants, and others who are legally on the property. The specific duty depends on the type of person who is injured, whether they are considered an “invitee” or a “licensee.”
Invitee to Premises
Under Colorado statute, an “‘invitee' means a person who enters or remains on the land of another to transact business in which the parties are mutually interested or who enters or remains on such land in response to the landowner's express or implied representation that the public is requested, expected, or intended to enter or remain.”
A common example of an “invitee” would be a customer to a business. The business is there for the purpose of interacting with customers and visitors are expected to be on the property. This would include a restaurant patron, grocery store shopper, patient in a doctor's office, or renter in an apartment building.
Property owners have the highest duty of care to invitees. The property owner may be liable for the unreasonable failure to exercise reasonable care to protect against dangers of which he actually knew or should have known.
For example, the floor tiles in a pizza restaurant bathroom are broken and cracked. The owner knows about the tiles and plans to have someone replace them the next weekend. A customer uses the bathroom after eating pizza and trips over some broken tiles, hitting their head on the sink. The restaurant owner may be liable for the customer's injuries because the owner failed to exercise reasonable care to protect against the known hazards of broken flooring.
Licensee on Premises
Under Colorado law, “‘Licensee' means a person who enters or remains on the land of another for the licensee's own convenience or to advance his own interests, pursuant to the landowner's permission or consent. "Licensee" includes a social guest.”
An example of a licensee is a private visit from a friend or family member. Another example of a licensee may be a door-to-door salesman.
A licensee may recover for damages caused by the landowner's unreasonable failure to exercise reasonable care with respect to dangers created by the landowner of which the landowner actually knew. The landowner is also liable for failure to warn of dangers that are not ordinarily present on property of the type involved and of which the landowner actually knew.
For example, a salesman shows up to a grocery store to try and sell a new type of compostable grocery bag. The store manager asks the man to come to his office upstairs. There is a loose step that has almost caused the manager to take a fall but he remembers it now and skips that step. The manager fails to warn the salesman and the salesman falls down the stairs after stepping on the loose step. The grocery store owner may be liable for injuries for failure to warn the salesman about the known but not obvious hazard of the loose step.
A trespasser is a person who enters or remains on the land of another without the landowner's consent. Property owners have a very low duty to anyone who is on the property without consent. A property owner is generally only liable to a trespasser for “damages willfully or deliberately caused by the landowner.”
Personal Injury Claim for Damages
If someone is injured because of inadequately maintained premises, the property owner may be liable for damages, including:
- Medical bills,
- Lost wages,
- Pain and suffering,
- Loss of earning potential, and
- Continuing medical care.
The attorneys at accidentdenver.com have successfully represented their clients and families in Colorado who were injured in a premises liability accident Our attorneys understand how the property owner's insurance company operates and will fight to get the maximum compensation available for your injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation.