Do I have a case ifI attempted a repair for my landlord and was injured in the process?

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Do I have a case ifI attempted a repair for my landlord and was injured in the process?

I lease a house and almost a year ago now, I attempted to fix a broken garage door track in exchange for a rent payment. The plan failed and I ended up with 24 stitches on my face and neck. My landlord offered no mercy and refused to pay a dime, claiming that I shouldn’t have tried to repair it, if I wasn’t qualified. She knew I couldn’t predict the outcome of the garage door falling in and jousting me off of he ladder; it was installed wrong from the beginning (according to the garage door specialist that repaired it). I told her I could “try” to fix it, but I didn’t say that it would be “no problem”. I actually mentioned it was dangerous, but would try anyway. At the time, I had Medicaid, so I didn’t have a need to ask her to pay the outrageous bills. I’m still living here, and it still upsets me that I have a marred face and neck…and she refuses to take a dime off of my rent or offer to compensate any for my time I suffered. The garage specialist was surprised I hadn’t sued yet. I’m wondering, do I have a case?

Asked on March 20, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, you almost certainly do not have a case against the landlord for two reasons:

First, how was the landlord at fault? A person is not liable to another simply because the 2nd person was injured on the first person's property; instead, the first person must have done something wrong, such as having been negligent or unreasonably careless. In this case, the landlord did nothing, and so would not be liable, except *possibly* if it was the landlord who had misinstalled the door in a dangerous fashion in the first place; but even if that were the case, you'd run into the second problem.

Second, you voluntarily chose to do something for which you were not qualified and which you acknowledge was dangerous. In that case, you both assumed the risk of injury and also--since you were doing sometihng for which you were not qualified--likely committed the majority of any negligence yourself.

You often can't volunatrily offer to do something dangerous, then sue another person for the inevitable injuries.


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