Can I sue an apartment complex if my husband was injured while breaking a fire extinguisher case after a fire broke out?

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Can I sue an apartment complex if my husband was injured while breaking a fire extinguisher case after a fire broke out?

There was no metal hammer on our extinguisher. Also, the complex did not have a first aid kit.

Asked on May 19, 2013 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

There is no obligation to have a first aid kit, so that would not provide a basis for liability. It is unlikely that the absence of a hammer would provide a basis for liability either, since there are other ways to break the case (e.g. with shoe; with chair, book, bag, etc.) that would not cause injury, so it is likely not unreasonably careless (negligent) to not provide a hammer. Also, if the way your husband tried to break the case was itself careless, his own negligence would undercut his ability to recover compensation. Finally, even if it were to be held that that the complex was negligent in not providing a hammer, you could only recover for your husband's out-of-pocket (not reimbursed by insurance) medical bills; for lost wages (if any); and for "pain and suffering" if your husband suffered some at least moderately long-lasting diminution of the ability to enjoy life or perform basic life functions (e.g. if he couldn't use his hand for more than a few days). Unless he was significantly injured, therefore, it's unlikely that he could recover enough money to make a lawsuit worthwhile.


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