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Is a Landlord Responsible for a Drug Overdose on Their Property?

Is a Landlord Responsible for a Drug Overdose on Their Property?

California landlords have many responsibilities. In fact, any owner of a property has a responsibility to ensure that their property is safe and free of hazards. The laws governing what this can be iffy at best. This is why a recent case in which a family is suing a landlord for their child’s drug overdose is being looked at so closely. Is this a valid case of premises liability or is the family simply looking for someone to blame for their child’s death?

At Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas we have worked with a wide range of premises liability cases and if there is one thing that is true it is that these cases are never simple. Today we will look at this case and assess what the options are. If you have lost a loved one and believe this was the result of another person’s negligence or recklessness, then you can call us at 909-982-0707 for a free legal consultation.

The case in question

In the case in question, an 18-year-old died of a drug overdose while in a property that was owned by someone else. The parents of the deceased filed a lawsuit against the owner of the home and said that the owner should have taken certain steps to ensure that the home was “reasonably safe,” which is the legal requirement of property owners.

This case brings up numerous questions

The case we are discussing brings up a number of legal questions. There is an argument that could be made that the owner of the property should have alerted the police if they knew there was suspicious or harmful activities going on at the property they owned. The question is not whether or not they should have alerted the police though – the question is whether or not they were legally obligated to.

The decisions of the court

In this case, the court decided not to impose duty on the owner of the property when their tenants were using drugs. They claimed that there was no evidence that the landlord had any reasonable way to stop their tenants from engaging in these activities. The judge also pointed to the fact that there was no evidence that the landlord even knew what was going on. On the other hand, another dissenting justice asserted that negligence includes not just actions taken but actions that were not taken – such as a landlord having reason to suspect that there was drug use happening on their property and not taking steps to stop it.

While the case in question went one way, that does not mean that a similar case would not have gone another way. The truth is that rental properties are not always that clearly defined re: responsibility when deaths or accidents happen. As a result, if you or a loved one has been injured on the property of a landlord then there may still be legal recourse. Contact Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas at 909-982-0707 to learn more.


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