When you rent from a landlord, it is generally assumed that the property owner will keep common or shared areas safe and in compliance with building and safety codes. In many rental properties, staircases present the most danger, as even a single damaged step or slippery tread can lead to serious injury, and potentially, a lawsuit on the basis of premises liability. One such example can be found in the case of a man who fell down a flight of stairs, which his suit claimed did not have even a handrail, leading a Stamford jury to award him more than $2 million in damages.
“His Life Changed Forever”
The man’s injury dates back to 2010, when he fell down a staircase that led to a room he was renting from a couple on Irving Avenue in Stamford. According to the injured man’s attorney and subsequent lawsuit, the victim suffered a fractured skull and other injuries that kept him the hospital for six weeks. Much of the hospital stay was reportedly spent in intensive care and the man’s skull injuries required surgery.
The victim’s attorney also said that, following the fall, resulting cognitive and behavioral problems cost the man his job as a window assembler. Even as the suit continued in his absence, the man eventually moved back to his home in Peru. The attorney for the landlord couple did not dispute the man’s injuries or the impact to his livelihood. “The owners felt horrible for [him],” the defendants’ attorney said. “[He] fell and his life changed forever.”
Premises Liability or Personal Responsibility?
The claimant’s case was built around premises liability and the duty of care that a landlord owes a tenant or other guest on his or her property. A dangerous staircase, as evidenced by the alleged lack of a handrail in this case, can certainly leave a homeowner or landlord liable if a jury finds that the owner knew or should have known of the potential danger.
The landlords in the Stamford case, however, claim that the man was intoxicated at the time of his fall. Although the fall was unwitnessed, the defense believed that victim was at least partially responsible for his injuries, though they could not afford an expert witness to strengthen their case before the jury. Ultimately, the jury found the victim to be 10 percent liable, but found in his favor anyway, awarding more than $2 million after reducing the award by the percentage of his liability. Collection, however, seems to be unlikely, as the defendants, through their attorney, have said they will probably declare bankruptcy.
Injured in a Premises Liability Case?
If you have been hurt on another’s property, you may be entitled to collect compensation for your injuries. Contact an experienced Hartford personal injury attorney today to discuss your options and to begin working toward financial recovery. Call [[phone1]] to schedule a free, confidential consultation at the Woolf Law Firm, LLC.