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

UPDATED: May 19, 2013

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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