Can I be accountable for a tenant injury before I own the property? 26 Answers as of June 02, 2013

I recently purchased a rental property and the previous tenant (under the old property owner) is suing me for an injury which occurred to him. The injury occurred before I was the owner. The plaintiffs lawyer claims that I can still be held accountable. Is this true?

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Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo
Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo | Mark Leonardo
It depends on how the sale was conducted and what the sale documents say. If you were insured, turn it in to your carrier. If not, make a demand on the seller to indemnify you.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/8/2011
Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
Plaintiffs lawyer is a blowhard. If incorporated the obligation remains. If you bought it as an individual tell the lawyer I said he is a blowhard.
Answer Applies to: North Carolina
Replied: 11/3/2011
McKell Christiansen
McKell Christiansen | Michael McKell
As a Plaintiff's attorney I would not sue you because you would have no liability unless it can be shown that you had "equitable title" to the property which means the property was transferred to you but you actual title may have been delayed. The Plaintiff is probably bringing you into the action as a means of identifying additional insurance companies.
Answer Applies to: Utah
Replied: 11/2/2011
Kelaher Law Offices, P.A.
Kelaher Law Offices, P.A. | James P Kelaher
If you bought the property as being owned by a corporation where the corporation owned the property and you bought the corporation, then the corporation still has liability. If you personally bought the property after the accident occurred, then you have no liability.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 11/2/2011
Lombardi Law Firm
Lombardi Law Firm | Steve Lombardi
The purchase documents included a provision that you assumed the previous owner's liability. Who is the attorney making that claim? What county? Ask him for legal authority that supports his client's claim.
Answer Applies to: Iowa
Replied: 11/2/2011
    R. D. Kelly Law Firm, P.L.L.C.
    R. D. Kelly Law Firm, P.L.L.C. | Robert Kelly
    You should contact your insurance company to see if they will appoint counsel for you. Whether the liability (if any) for injury to due unreasonably hazardous conditions on the premises would go with the purchase and sale of the property might depend on the specific terms of the written document(s) regarding the transaction. It seems unlikely, but you might want to consult with an attorney regarding the particular circumstances of your situation.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/2/2011
    Alfred Law Firm
    Alfred Law Firm | Janice Alfred
    I do not believe so unless you assumed all previous liability in your purchase agreement.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 11/2/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    No. It is not true.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/2/2013
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    I don't believe so since there was apparently no claim divulged or action started before you bought the property. Speak to a local lawyer about it just be sure. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/2/2011
    Law Office of Russell D. Gray, PC
    Law Office of Russell D. Gray, PC | Russell D. Gray
    If the property had insurance at the time of the accident, then refer the injury to the insurance company. If there was no insurance, you may be liable depending on what the purchase agreement says. Talk to your insurance company, and then talk to a lawyer. The insurance company (if there is one) should provide you with a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 11/2/2011
    Buff & Chronister, LLC.
    Buff & Chronister, LLC. | Curtis L. Chronister Jr.
    You appear to fall under the realm of contract, property and tort (personal injury) law. Once you sign a purchase agreement, barring language in the contract to the contrary, you have assumed the risk in some, but not all, situations. If you are being sued, you may want to consider bringing the seller into the suit. Depending on how an attorney wants to tackle this one, the seller of the property could be held liable for pre-existing conditions. So, in short, yes, you can be sued as the legal owner, but your back-up may be that the seller was in actual possession of the property at the time of the incident.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 11/2/2011
    Law Offices of Steven A. Fink
    Law Offices of Steven A. Fink | Steven Alan Fink
    Unless you contractually assumed liability for the injury when you purchased the property, Plaintiff's attorney has a unique theory of the law.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/2/2011
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C.
    Andrew T. Velonis, P.C. | Andrew Velonis
    Did you buy the property, or did you buy the company that owns the property? You can't be held liable if you did not own the property, but the company can be held liable if it did.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 11/2/2011
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law | Gary Moore
    If you purchased a corporate entity which owned the property, you could be liable. If you purchased the property following the occurrence of the accident, I do not see how you can be liable since it is the owner of the property at the time of the accident who is obligated to maintain lease premises in a safe condition.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 11/2/2011
    Law Offices of Kenneth Wincorn P.C.
    Law Offices of Kenneth Wincorn P.C. | Kenneth Wincorn
    It is possible. You may need to bring the old landlord into the suit. Check the sale documents to see the extent of his liability.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 11/2/2011
    Broad Law Firm, LLC
    Broad Law Firm, LLC | Donald K. Broad
    Based on the limited facts presented, I am not aware of any theory under Indiana law where you can be held liable in this instance. Regardless, since you are a landlord, I am assuming you have liability insurance. If that is the case, you can turn the lawsuit over to them and they will have to hire an attorney to defend you. If they do not, you should consult an attorney in your area.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 2/17/2012
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    Contact the insurance company of the previous owner and you insurance company.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 11/2/2011
    Bulman Law Associates PLLC Injury Law Firm
    Bulman Law Associates PLLC Injury Law Firm | Thomas Bulman
    I don't think so but you need a defense so call your insurer and tell them what has happened. They will contact the prior owner and give them notice so the prior owner's insurer can respond.
    Answer Applies to: Montana
    Replied: 11/2/2011
    Law Office of Ronald Arthur Lowry
    Law Office of Ronald Arthur Lowry | Ronald Arthur Lowry
    No. The only way would be if the previous owner was a corporation and you bought the corporation. The corporation then could still be held liable with you as the owner.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 11/2/2011
    Bernard Huff, Attorney/Mediator
    Bernard Huff, Attorney/Mediator | Bernard Huff
    For specific legal advice and representation, you should retain your own landlord/tenant or real estate lawyer, or at least consult with one regarding your liability before you purchased the property.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 11/2/2011
    Rose, Senders & Bovarnick, LLC
    Rose, Senders & Bovarnick, LLC | Paul S. Bovarnick
    Depends on the contract of sale. If you assumed the liabilities of the seller, then probably yes.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 11/2/2011
    Paris Blank LLP
    Paris Blank LLP | Irving M Blank
    No, unless you assumed the liability in your purchase agreement.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 11/2/2011
    Shaw Law Firm
    Shaw Law Firm | Steven L. Shaw
    Unless you agreed to take on any prior claims when you purchased the property, the answer is no. By analogy, you wouldn't be responsible for an auto collision for a car you purchased that had injured someone before you bought it.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/2/2011
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