Is My Landlord Liable for My Accident in My Apartment in Massachusetts?
Your apartment might be the last place you expect to suffer a serious personal injury. If your home contains a dangerous defect, however, such as a gas leak or a faulty staircase, you could end up in the hospital with life-altering injuries. Whether your landlord is or is not liable for an accident in your apartment in Boston depends on the situation. These cases involve Massachusetts’ premises liability laws, the State Sanitary Code and landlord responsibilities. You may need a Boston apartment injury lawyer’s assistance navigating the laws to obtain fair compensation after an injury in your apartment.
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Tenant Rights in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, the State Sanitary Code lists the minimum standards of fitness a premises must have for human habitation. It is a code from the Commonwealth’s Department of Health. This code states that all tenants in the Commonwealth have the right to safe and habitable living environments for the duration of their tenancies. The code gives landlords specific responsibilities in this regard.
- Keep the unit free from pests such as insects, cockroaches and rodents.
- Maintain the building’s structural elements, including doors, windows, staircases and the foundation of the apartment building.
- Ensure the structure keeps out the elements (wind, rain, snow, water, weather and pests).
- Remove obstructions, including snow, from all exits intended for use by occupants.
A safe and habitable environment is one with enough water, adequate water pressure, hot water between 110 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit, a heating system in good working order, and necessary kitchen appliances (a sink, stove, oven and space for a refrigerator). It is a landlord’s legal duty to provide these necessities to all tenants. A landlord should also respond promptly to any safety or health complaints concerning controlled areas, such as the apartment or common zones. Any breach of the State Sanitary Code or other legal responsibilities could make the landlord liable for a related accident in an apartment.
How to Determine Landlord Liability
Your landlord in Boston might be liable for your accident if he or she reasonably could have prevented it from happening. Liability for apartment accidents in Massachusetts depends on the circumstances of the case. You or your attorney will have to prove the landlord’s negligence to obtain compensation. Negligence is the failure to meet the expected standards of care. This could describe a broken law, violated safety standard or breach of duty of care by the landlord.
Under the concept of negligence, your landlord’s actions or omissions must be the proximate cause of your injury to hold the landlord liable for damages. In other words, your injuries would not have happened were it not for the landlord’s negligence. Your lawyer will need to prove a reasonably prudent landlord would have done something differently and prevented the foreseeable accident, such as inspect the building for risks more regularly or schedule prompt structural repairs. The likelihood of your injury, whether your landlord had control over the defect in question, the actions of your landlord and many other factors could impact your injury claim.
Does Renters Insurance Cover My Medical Expenses?
If your landlord is liable for your injury, his or her property insurance should cover your damages. This includes payments for your related medical bills, lost wages, property damages and other expenses. Unfortunately, if your landlord is not liable, your options for financial recovery could be limited.
The typical renters’ insurance policy only covers your property repairs after an accident, not your medical expenses. You will need health insurance instead to cover the medical costs of an apartment accident. Otherwise, you will have to pay for your injury out of pocket – unless a lawyer can find a third party other than your landlord who is liable for your apartment accident. A product manufacturer, for instance, could be liable for an injury related to a defective item in your apartment. Consult with a Boston personal injury attorney about your specific claim for more details about your legal options.