In today’s video, Personal Injury Attorney Ben Schwartz suggests what you should do if you have a slip and fall injury during a stay at a rental property.
Hi, I am Attorney Ben Schwartz,
Today we are going to answer a viewer’s question from Paul in Rehoboth, Delaware, or actually, I should say Paul from the DC area. He has a question about an injury that occurred in Rehoboth Delaware. Paul wrote in he said, “I had a slip and fall type of accident in a rental home in Rehoboth, Delaware and we are out of the rental home, I guess it was a vacation rental, how do I get back in to figure out what caused me to fall?”
This is a common question in slip and fall types of injuries, premises liability, trip and fall accident injury cases. And that is when you have the accident you are not focused on what caused you to fall or what caused you to have this injury, you are focused on the pain that you are in. You may be incapacitated as a result of the trauma, 911 is called, the EMTs come and they take you away and you are in the hospital. Maybe you have serious injuries, maybe you have surgery, maybe you do not go back to the place where the accident happened. As a result, you are not in a position to figure out what caused you to have the accident.
Then later you go to an attorney and you say, I had an accident and I would like to maybe consider bringing a claim or a lawsuit for my personal injuries. The attorney says, well if you do not know how you fell; if you do not know what defect in the property caused you to fall, we do not know if you have a case, or if you have a right to sue. Because you have a right to sue based on the negligence, the defective condition, of the premises. So as a plaintiff, the lawyer is going to be looking to you to figure out what was the defective condition. The lawyer is going to be looking to you, the injured plaintiff, or the injured claimant, to say here is what happened, and this is why I fell.
So, if you are out of the home and you cannot get back in and you do not know what the defect was specifically that caused you to fall, that is a real problem in the evaluation of a personal injury case. It is a real problem for your attorney who is probably trying to decide if it is a case or if it is not a case to be pursued and give you legal advice in that regard.
To get back into the rental home you could contact the property manager or the owner of the home. You could say, I had an injury and I am considering making a claim. I would like to have access to the home so that I could come in and do an inspection and take some photographs and videotape. Maybe they will let you in, maybe they won’t. They are not required to do that.
If you go to an attorney, the attorney might do the same thing. The attorney might contact the landlord or the rental agent or the owner and say we are representing Paul and we want to come in and do what is called a site inspection to take some photos and videotape. Will you please let us in? Maybe they will let us in and maybe they won’t. You could file a lawsuit and then after the lawsuit is filed and after the defendants, the property owner, the manager has been served with the lawsuit papers, you could file a motion with a court to compel the property owner to give you access to let you come to a site inspection and take your photos and videotape to figure out if there is a property defect or not.
Of course, the problem with that is, now you are spending money on a lawsuit. It costs hundreds of dollars to file a lawsuit. That is just the court fees not counting the attorney’s fees and it is kind of hard to make the decision that you are going to spend that kind of money when you do not know that you have a property defect if you are just doing this to find out if there is a property defect, those are the options.
I think that this is more than anything, a cautionary tale. If you are watching this video and you or a family member or a friend has sustained an injury in a rental or on a property before you leave, if you are able to, before you exit the property, if you are able to, you should take some pictures and/or take some video. Everyone has camera phones these days, it takes pretty sharp videos. Take some pictures, take some videos, try and document what the condition is and that way you are not stuck behind the eight ball not able to get access back into the rental unit, and not being able to figure out what caused the injuries and whether there was a defective condition.
I think it is a cautionary tale and it is a good thing that we talked about it. I think people out there watching this video need to know that if you have had a slip and fall injury if you are able, while you have access to the premises, get your pictures and your video so that the lawyer has something to evaluate to determine whether there was negligence or carelessness, or a defective condition created by the landowner, the property owner, the rental owner, or the management company.
Thanks for watching. I am Ben Schwartz from the Law Firm Schwartz and Schwartz. If you have questions for me about personal injury, litigation lawsuits, and your legal rights, send me an email.