If a tenant (or a tenant’s guest) is injured or burned by a radiator in a rental unit, the injured tenant/party may have the option to sue their landlord for their injuries. To understand available options from the unfortunate event, the tenant/injured party should contact burn injury lawyers soon after the event to discuss the next steps and possible avenues to pursue.
The burn victim and the burn injury attorneys work together to determine if the landlord’s actions (or lack of actions) caused the radiator burn/injury and that the actions/inactions were both negligent and foreseeable by reasonable standards.
There are times when the connection between the landlord’s actions/inactions and the injury is apparent – like when someone slips on a recently waxed floor with improper signage. However, there are other incidents when the cause of the injury and the actions/inactions of the landlord are vague and amorphous. A burn injury lawyers’ experience is key to understanding a victim’s options.
The Concept of Negligence
The legal concept of negligence requires the tenant (or anyone who falls victim to a negligence act) to provide sufficient evidence that documents that the landlord’s behavior was the direct (the proximate) cause of the radiator burn or injury. Note, though, the concept of negligence does not require the harm to be intentional.
A radiator burn injury case would be heard in a court of law that would ultimately determine if the lawsuit meets the four elements of negligence –
- The Duty of Care.
- The Breach of the Duty of Care.
- The Causation of the Breach of Duty.
- The Damages Resulting from the Negligent Act.
If a landlord’s act/inaction deviates from what a reasonable person would have known/foreseen in the same or similar circumstance, the landlord’s act/inaction could be deemed negligent, and the proximate cause of the event.
Radiators are heat exchanging instruments that are designed to transfer energy (thermal) – as either a heating or cooling element. A radiator in a car transfers heat away from the engine – in a cooling action. A radiator used to heat a home transfers heat to the living space – in a heating action.
The radiator is regulated by a valve that adjusts the amount of steam, and therefore the amount of heat generated to keep the rental unit comfortable in cold weather.
If a radiator malfunctions in a rental unit, the risks involved go beyond merely having cold and cranky tenants. Potential risks include –
When a radiator valve malfunctions, unlimited amounts of steam rush through. This causes the radiator’s temperature to rise to scalding levels that could easily burn or disfigure someone by the simple touch of skin.
When a radiator malfunctions, it could become so intensely hot, a fire ensues.
When a Landlord is Negligent
A landlord is not automatically responsible for every injury that may happen in a tenant’s rental unit. As noted above, a landlord is liable for a tenant’s injury if the landlord’s actions/inactions are considered careless (i.e., negligent) AND the landlord’s actions/inactions are shown to have contributed to the victim’s injury. Consider these issues, as a landlord –
Control over Dangerous Situation
A landlord is likely to be liable for a tenant’s injuries if the landlord has a legal obligation to maintain/repair the burn injury factor.
The Accident was Likely Foreseeable
If a reasonable individual would have been expected to foresee the issue that caused the burn injury, a landlord must take proactive measures to prevent the injuries. However, it is noted that landlords are not responsible for accidents considered freak accidents.
The Landlord has an Awareness of a Hidden Danger
If a landlord is aware of a condition that exists that presents a danger or risk, they are obligated to contact the tenants regarding the issue as a warning, and to follow up with an expeditious repair.
Failing to Reasonably Prevent Injury
The law requires landlords to take reasonable (rather than extraordinary) care to prevent tenants from injuries. Reasonable care is defined as the amount of care an average, able-bodied individual would have done in the same circumstances.
Was a Serious Injury Likely?
If a landlord was aware of the possibility of a considerable risk of injury, a court of law would expect the landlord to repair the situation despite the cost or the repair’s difficulty.
Was the Precaution or the repair Simple or Inexpensive?
A court of law is likely to hold a landlord liable for a tenant’s injuries if the precautionary/responsiveness to a dangerous situation was a simple or cost-effective solution.
In making its determination regarding potential negligence, the court, as a matter of business, compares the burden of mitigating the danger to the actual depth and risk of injury. Demarcating a hot radiator area with a small posted sign or a clear notice in the lease agreement are smart ways to keep tenants informed about potential dangers of the rental apartment.