Ceiling Collapse Creates Risks for Tenants
Ceiling collapse is a dangerous threat to poorly-maintained and poorly-constructed rental units and homes. Victims of ceiling and balcony collapse are often caught by surprise and can sustain serious injuries, such as head trauma or death. In order to bring a suit against the responsible parties, victims of ceiling collapse should bring a premises liability lawsuit with the help of a skilled attorney.
What Causes a Ceiling Collapse?
Water is the most common culprit. Leaky pipes running above the ceiling are a major source of ceiling collapse. Another source is a lack of waterproofing. The Berkeley balcony accident that killed 13 students several years ago was possibly caused by wood rot from water damage over time, experts said.
Elements of a Ceiling Collapse Claim
In order to have a meritorious ceiling collapse claim, you must prove that:
- The building owner or managing agent had a duty of care to the injured party. Typically, the party responsible for your injury will be the building owner or the building manager. These parties are commonly found to have a duty of care to tenants to provide them with safe living areas.
- The duty of care was breached. This is the element that is often the hardest to prove. A tenant must prove that the landlord knew about the ceiling issue or should have known about the ceiling issue and did not repair it. For example, if you moved into the apartment and you right away noticed the ceiling defect, it may be possible to argue that the landlord should have known about the ceiling because the ceiling was damaged at the start of the lease.
- The breach of care was a proximate cause in bringing about the injury. Here, the victim must prove that the injuries were caused by the landlord’s inability to act reasonably and repair the ceiling.
What to Do If You are Concerned about Your Ceiling Collapsing
The most important thing to do is to be vocal with your landlord or property manager. Proof in writing that you suspect there is a problem is perhaps the best evidence for your case. You should also take pictures of the ceiling regularly if you believe there is an issue with it. Doing these two things will help your case if you get injured.
Must a Tenant Continue to Pay Rent?
If you are living in an apartment or home with a collapsed ceiling, California courts have said that a tenant may withhold rent. A tenant may withhold rent if the landlord refuses to repair serious defects that make the premises uninhabitable. While the facts of your specific case may dictate a different outcome, it may be possible to withhold rent. You should only do so after you have gotten advice from an attorney or other authority.
Contact a San Jose, CA Ceiling Collapse Attorney
If you are a victim of ceiling collapse, you have rights that should be pursued by a skilled premises liability attorney. A ceiling collapse can leave you seriously injured and your home uninhabitable. These are losses that can be compensated for under the law. To arrange your first meeting with our firm, contact the San Jose ceiling collapse lawyers at Jachimowicz Pointer, Attorneys at Law, Inc. at 408-246-5500.
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