That upstairs apartment was just perfect for you. Close to work. Close to shopping. Close to family.

Until the handrail leading to your apartment came off as you were walking down the stairs on the way to work, causing you to fall hard down the stairs and suffer several broken bones and a concussion. You didn’t make it to work that day – or for several weeks, in fact.

As the pile of medical bills rolls in, you wonder how you are going to pay them, especially with your lost income. You could get some help with those bills and recouping lost wages if the property owner knew that railing was loose and never took the time or trouble to fix it. You even could seek replacement of the laptop that broke when you took your tumble.

Landlords in California, and throughout the United States, are responsible for keeping common areas in good condition and warning tenants about dangers that exist, even if you can’t see them. A landlord is liable when tenants and visitors are injured because of their negligence.

More specifically, building owners or landlords are responsible if they knew of a dangerous condition and didn’t fix it in a reasonable amount of time, if the injury was caused by not fixing the dangerous condition, making the repair would have been reasonably affordable and easy, and the injury that resulted could have been expected by not making the repair.

For the landlord to be liable, all of those elements must be proved. If you can show those elements, you can seek payment for your lost earnings, medical bills, emotional distress, pain and suffering, disability or disfigurement and even your personal property that was damaged.

If you find yourself in this position, chat with an attorney who works with premises liability cases to learn if you have a claim against your landlord.