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Posted On March 10, 2020

Deadly LA and Las Vegas Apartment Fires Reveal Landlord Negligence

Recent investigations of deadly apartment fires in Los Angeles and Las Vegas have revealed landlord negligence. When a landlord’s action or inaction is careless and causes or contributes to a tenant’s or guest’s injury, he or she can be found liable for said injury in a personal injury lawsuit.

Los Angeles and Las Vegas Apartment Fires

In the Alpine Motel Apartment fire in Las Vegas, six people died, many others were injured, and 25 families were displaced in December 2019 when a first-floor unit caught fire and spread through the complex. After the fire, investigators found 16 code violations in the building, including missing smoke alarms and an exit door that had been bolted shut. However, information came to light that the building had a history of violations and had been without a fire inspection for the prior two years. This showed a pattern of negligence on the part of the landlord.

In January 2020, an injury victim of the Barrington Plaza Apartments in West Los Angeles filed a lawsuit after a fire. This suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. It is alleged that the building’s landlord ignored complaints from residents that included a lack of fire sprinklers, nonworking fire alarms, unusable fire exits, among other basic safety issues. The January fire resulted in 14 people injured, including three firefighters, a gravely injured resident, and a resident left in critical condition.

How is Landlord Negligence Proved?

In a personal injury case against a negligent landlord, the injury lawyer must be able to provide proof of negligence. That proof is evaluated by the court to determine if the landlord was negligent, which is possible to do even if the landlord did not intentionally plan to cause harm. Tenants must be able to prove that their landlord’s carelessness is directly linked to their injury.

During a personal injury lawsuit, the court will consider the following factors:

  • Whether the landlord had control over the dangerous situation
  • If the landlord notified tenants about hidden dangers that are hidden or not obvious
  • Whether a reasonable person would have foreseen an issue that could cause injury, such as a loose step that should have been repaired
  • The cost and feasibility of taking actions to reasonably address the dangerous condition
  • The likelihood that the problem could cause a serious injury if not repaired as soon as possible
  • Failing to take reasonable steps to prevent an accident from occurring

Consideration for Comparative Fault

Even when a landlord’s behavior has met the thresholds of negligence, the injured tenant could be held responsible for their own actions. The court uses a comparative or contributory fault approach in allocating liability. If the tenant is found to have contributed to his injuries, the court could drastically reduce their monetary award.

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