Do I have a case against my landlord or his homeowner’s insurance company if I am hurt in my apartment?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Do I have a case against my landlord or his homeowner’s insurance company if I am hurt in my apartment?

I live on the top floor of a historic home that is divided into condo’s. Since my unit is on the top we have access to the pull-down ladder that leads to the attic space where boxes are stored. Me and my landlord had spoken about my use of the attic for storage purposes and he had even mentioned bringing by some of his stuff to store up there as well. I read my lease and there is no mention of the attic in my lease as being off premises as well. So what happened was I went up into the attic to check on a squeaking noise and to lay a box down and the first platform I step onto directly from the last step collapses on me. Keep in mind this isnt insulation I’ve stepped on between studs I would know better this is a wooden platform that is directly first level place at top of ladder. As soon as I put my second foot on this landing to stand up it collapses completely and I land directly on hardwood flooring 12 feet below. I have a large lesion in my back where the debris scrapped against me. In addition my ankle is broken is 2 places that will require surgery. A plate and pins will need to be placed inside my ankle. I am looking at 60 days at least post surgery before I am able to walk confortably. I want to note the unit I live in is a walk up 3 flights from the back so I cannot use my apartment because of access. There is no elevator. Also, I have small dogs that have to be let out daily. It is my right foot so I am unable to drive as well. I am having to stay with family out of town until I am able to climb stairs and drive my car – again 2 months at least. My obvious question is do I have a strong case located in GA? And, if so, what is it worth my time and energy to go after? The landlord’s homeowner’s insurance company has already called me trying to get me not to file a claim and to settle with the landlord out of pocket because it will follow him for 5 years and would likely be dropped as a customer. They mentioned him paying my deductible for my medical insurance and other expenses. I feel like this is a huge loss for me as it is my right ankle requiring major surgery and 60 days of displaced life. Luckily I can work remotely for work from my computer but I am sacrificing not being able to travel to work career wise. Should i file a claim with his insurance company and what amount of settlement would you think is achieveable given my situation? This is considering the surgery corrects the ankle but still it could lead to further issues down the road in terms of joint issues.

Asked on February 9, 2018 under Personal Injury, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You can submit a claim to his insurer, but bear in mind they don't have to pay: they are *his* insurer, not yours, and have no duty directly to you. They may pay, if they deem it likely that you'd otherwise sue and win--if they think that is the case, it is logical for them to offer to pay something voluntary, to save the costs of litigation and (they hope) pay less than they might otherwise--but it's still voluntary for them; they can decide to not offer you money.
The only way to compel payment is by suing. Based on what you write, you may well have a good case for medical costs, lost wages, and also pain and suffering for both the 2 months currently and any future impairment which is a medically foreseeable and likely:
1) The attic was not excluded from our rental, so you would seem to have access as a top floor tenant.
2) You say you discussed using the attic for storage and the landlord did not tell you to not do so or say that the attic was offlimits.
3) There was a dangerous condition in the attic which caused the injury.
You should consult with a personal injury attorney to evaluate what y your case might be worth--with a plate and pins being installed, it may be a significant amount. Many such attorneys provide a free initial consultation to evaluate a case; you can inquire into this before making the appointment.

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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