Apartment complexes and other landlords have a legal duty to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition for tenants and all other guests. When they fail to do so, they may be held liable for any resulting accidents—including fatal accidents. Under New York law (EPT § 5-4.1), the personal representative of the estate can bring a wrongful death claim against an apartment complex. This raises an important question: What do you need to prove to hold a landlord liable in a wrongful death lawsuit?
Wrongful Death Liability in New York: The Negligence Standard
An apartment complex or building management company cannot be held liable for death simply because it occurred on their property. The plaintiffs in a wrongful death claim must provide evidence that proves that the defendant’s negligence contributed to the fatal accident. In other words, you must prove that the landlord’s actions or inactions were unreasonably dangerous. Some notable examples of landlord/apartment complex negligence include:
- Inadequate Maintenance: Landlords have a responsibility to perform regular maintenance on the property. When they fail to do so—whether it is not replacing a broken stair or failing to secure windows—it could lead to a serious accident.
- Elevator Accidents: New York State strictly regulates elevators in apartment buildings and office buildings. Landlords/management companies must ensure that elevators are inspected on a regular basis. Any issues should be addressed without delay. If your loved one was killed in an elevator accident, call a lawyer right away.
- Negligent Security: An apartment complex may also bear liability for a criminal attack. Landlords have a duty to ensure adequate security measures are in place to protect tenants. Depending on the size and nature of the complex, adequate security measures may include providing working locks, reinforcing windows, ensuring working lighting outside of the units, screening all guests at entrances, and even hiring trained security personnel.
- Unsafe Conditions: Finally, an apartment complex may be held liable for conditions that are generally unsafe. If you believe your loved one was killed because of dangerous conditions at an apartment building, call a Buffalo, NY wrongful death lawyer immediately.
All wrongful death claims must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Do not assume that your family has no claim against a landlord or apartment building. If your loved one was killed in an accident or criminal attack at an apartment complex, you can benefit from consulting with a top-rated Buffalo wrongful death lawyer. Your lawyer will be able to investigate the matter, gather relevant evidence, and help you take the appropriate steps to get justice and the financial support that your family needs.
Contact Our Buffalo, NY Wrongful Death Attorneys Today
At Richmond Vona, LLC, our New York wrongful death lawyers always put the interests of our clients first. If your loved one was killed at an apartment complex, we can help. To set up a free, completely confidential consultation, please contact us now by calling (716) 300-5885. We represent families throughout Western New York, including in Cheektowaga, Williamsville, Orchard Park, East Aurora, Lockport, and Hamburg.