We all know that if a fire breaks out in a residential building, it can lead to serious injuries or death. This is especially so if the fire occurs in the middle of the night or the early morning when tenants are sleeping.

After a recent apartment fire left a Tennessee woman in critical condition, we thought it was a good time to discuss personal injury liability when someone suffers injury in a rented home.

Property owners have a duty to provide tenants with a dwelling that is reasonably free of injury risks. This duty applies to repairing structural conditions that may result in personal injury such as broken stairs or damaged flooring. It also applies to ensuring that the premise remains safe from the risk of criminal behavior.

Landlords in our state are required by law to make sure working smoke detectors are present in every unit. This is true for single-family rentals and for apartment buildings containing two or more units. As you know, smoke detectors can alert residents if a fire occurs and have the potential to save many lives.

If dangerous premises conditions and the lack of a working smoke detector collide, the results can be tragic. For example, say an apartment building contains faulty wiring and does not have smoke detectors installed. If the faulty wiring should cause a fire, it makes sense that tenants might not awaken in time to escape injury. Liability for any personal injury suffered in a situation like this will probably fall to the landlord.

However, it is unwise to assume that any personal injury claim you pursue will be successful, even if you know the landlord was negligent. If the law determines that you contributed to the fire in any way, your claim will certainly suffer. It is always wiser to enter into any legal action properly informed and with sound representation. Please visit our website if you need additional information about premises liability in our state.