Injuries at Apartment Complexes and Liability in Virginia

Under Virginia law, apartment complexes and their property managers have a duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of the complex’s tenants and guests in common areas.  They can be liable for injuries at apartment complexes in these areas. Common areas typically include the areas other than the apartments.

liability for injuries at an apartment complex

The owners can be liable for injuries at an apartment complex

Examples of common areas maintained by apartment complexes and their property managers include:

  • Breezeways
  • Walkways
  • Stairs shared by multiple units
  • Balconies and porches shared by multiple units
  • Sidewalks
  • Recreational areas open to tenants and guests
  • Dumpster and refuse areas
  • Garages and storage areas

If you are seriously injured as a result of negligence on the part of the apartment complex or its employees, you can seek fair compensation for your injuries.  Common examples of incidents causing injury that may arise from apartment complex negligence may include:

  • Balcony and porch collapses
  • Falls caused by snow and ice in public walkways
  • Falls caused by uneven or damaged sidewalks
  • Defective equipment in recreational areas
  • Damaged and unmaintained stairways and railings

If you are injured in a common area as a result of negligence by an apartment complex you may be entitled to compensation, which can include reimbursed for medical expenses incurred, as well as payment for your pain, suffering, lost wages, and inconvenience.

Injuries at Apartment Complexes – What Happens When You Are Hurt in a Residence?

The legal analysis changes if your injury occurs within an apartment unit after possession and exclusive control is transferred to a tenant.

Unless fraud or concealment of a known dangerous and latent condition has taken place, it is very difficult to hold the owner of the unit responsible for injuries occurring within to tenants.  An instance in which you can potentially hold a landlord or apartment complex responsible for injuries within an apartment after possession has been transferred to the tenant is when the landlord makes repairs and does so negligently.

For example, suppose you have a faulty bathroom door that is falling off the hinges.  You report it to the apartment complex property manager, whom promises to repair it.  Weeks pass with no attempt to repair the door and it suddenly falls and injuries you.  Surprisingly, you will likely have a very difficult time recovering damages for your personal injuries from the complex.  The property manager never entered your residence to attempt the repair, and therefore may be protected from liability under antiquated Virginia law.  Liability does not arise under Virginia law from a failure to fulfil a promise to repair.

The situation may be different if a property manager entered your residence, attempted to repair the door, but did so poorly and negligently.

If, for example, the door falls off and injured you, the tenant can potentially make a viable injury claim against the complex or its property manager.   Once a landlord or property manager actually undertakes a project or repair within your unit, ordinary care must be exercised, or liability can arise.

This creates an unusual circumstance in which a landlord or apartment complex may be protected by being unresponsive and not fulfilling its promise to make repairs. On the other hand, a landlord may open itself up to liability by undertaking repairs if done so negligently.

Challenging legal issues can arise as to whether a defect or hazard causing injury is still within the control and possession of the complex (in which liability may potentially exist), or is within the exclusive control of the tenant (in which liability against the landlord may not exist).

If you have been seriously injured as a tenant or guest through the negligence of an apartment complex, or other residential community, you may be able to make a personal injury claim for money damages.  At Cooper Hurley Injury lawyers we have a dedicated premises liability team that litigates cases against stores, restaurants, hotels, apartment complexes or other premises.

If you would like to discuss your circumstances to determine the viability of your claim, contact the experienced attorneys of Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at (757) 455-0077.

Bill O'Mara

 

 

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