Tag Archives: LIABILITY

If I fell through a rotted deck. Is landlord responsible.

Q: I was on my friend’s deck. I took a step towards the front door and my leg broke through a board causing me to go down and landed on my sacroiliac joint (cross beam broke my fall all the way down) I have permanent injuries to my SI joint, back, knees, feet, ankles. neck and ended up with Fibromyalgia as a result of this. I’ve been in physical therapy for over a year and I am looking for a clear answer of liability.  My understanding is whether this landlord knew the deck was unsafe or not or they should have. Was it up to code? How old is this deck? Was it inspected? Done by a professional contractor or shoddily built by that homeowner? The boards were unsealed, weathered, potential to splinter, but not wobbly, so myself nor my friends (the occupants) would not have had any reason to think the deck was unsafe. Especially since the landlord came up and painted that deck over the rotten boards. I have over 20k in medical bills and a ton of Doctors now. To be clear, this is a rented manufactured home with a small deck built on to front entrance The tenants do not maintain the property. The landlord fixes everything.

A:  Al these questions you ask are good questions and need to be known. Do not try to settle this with the Landlord or the insurance company yourself. You will end up losing. The landlord could be responsible, it could be the deck manufacturer, it could be the contractor who built the deck, who knows at this point. That is why you get an attorney. The attorney will investigate and conduct discovery. There is probably insurance coverage somewhere. Do not waste time nor let evidence be disappear.

If my car is wrongfully towed, can I sue the bank?

Q: I have a car loan with a local bank and had to do a month’s deferral because I was out of work for a while. I called my local branch and spoke to their loan officer, who sent me the paperwork in the mail and told me everything would work out just fine. He said the month I couldn’t afford to pay would simply add on to the end of my loan and it wouldn’t be a missed payment. However, I’ve been getting nonstop collection phone calls from their collection department. I spoke with them and explained the situation to someone there and they told me “oh yes, now that you said you had a deferral I see that on our system”. They told me everything was fine. But today while I was at work they called again and a tow truck was seen on my street. If they tow my car wrongfully, can I hold the bank liable and sue?

A: You are likely in breach of your loan agreement if it is not paid and I am assuming under the same contract they are permitted to reclaim their vehicle. Now, the question is whether you can rely on their promise to extend or defer, or, is this just trickery being used to get their car back? Lenders are permitted to use some level of trickery in repossessing their collateral. It is not uncommon for the lender to invite you in to discuss your financial woes, while unbeknownst to you your car is being hooked and hoisted by a tow truck in the parking lot. What a lender cannot do is breach the public peace in the repossession process. For example, if your car is on a public street, it is fair game. However, they cannot go into your garage and take it. If you are serious about catching up with your payment, you might want to make the car unavailable until you are so caught up. If they do tow it, I don’t think you have a legitimate claim to sue them. If you cannot pay up, you may want to just turn the car in voluntarily to preserve your credit worthiness. Additionally, if they are calling you at work, they are in violation of the law.

Do you have to pay for a broken water pipe you were unaware of?

Q: Do you have to pay a bill that you weren’t aware of? My friends water pipe broke and the water company is charging him 5thousand dollars for the month where he unknowing used 120,000 gallons when he typically uses less than 20,000. As soon as it was brought to his attention he fixed the pipe but the water company’s only response was “we’ll put you on a payment plan.” This is a gross injustice- what can he do to appeal the situation?

A: If the broken pipe was his private line and not the public main, your friend may be liable. The rationale of the water company is this. Why should they be liable when your friend was in the best position to realize there was a leak? This is not to say your friend was at fault, but is the more negligent of the two. Normally, water companies will enter into a payment plan in these situations. Your friend may want to review this with a lawyer or even call the PA Utility Commission for another opinion.


Am I comparatively negligent for having an expired license?

Q: Am I comparatively negligent for having an expired driver’s license? Even if I’m in an accident where the other driver is at fault? Will I be found comparatively negligent for having an expired license? Someone hit my truck but they were hauled away in an ambulance.

A: To my knowledge, having no license or a suspended license or other licensing issues, has nothing to do with liability in an accident case. It can be raised at trial by the opposing counsel in cross examination of you, or admission of your certified driving record at trial

Can I sue a waitress for slander?

Q: Can I sue a company if their employee slandered me? A waitress told her boyfriend that I groped her while she was working. The police got involved and I was charged with harassment, but the charges were dropped because the surveillance video clearly showed I didn’t do it. Can I sue her and the company she works at for slander?

A: Anybody can sue anybody. The issues is whether or not you are capable of getting a judgment and collecting money for your efforts. An attorney does not want to be involved if there is no prospect of getting money. Unless of course, your motive to do this as a cause or to teach her a lesson. In that case, if the attorney feels that collecting from a waitress may not be a good prospect, you may have to pay the attorney an hourly fee and all costs. If she has property you can lien once a judgment is entered, it may be worth it. As far as suing the company she works for, I do not believe they are liable unless they were somehow involved in perpetuating the untruth. Unless this waitress is financially worth going after, you will have a difficult time generating the interest of lawyers in such as suit. Nonetheless, you may want speak with a personal injury attorney.