Can I sue my landlord for punitive damages if my roof caved in? 29 Answers as of February 21, 2012

My apartment unit has serious water and piping issues. The ceiling has had serious water leaks on two occasions and just now a 4' x 3' section of the ceiling fell through crashing in the living room and put water everywhere. This is obviously a neglected building. Can I sue my landlord for punitive damages?

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The Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq.
The Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq. | Bradley Kramer
Punitive damages? Generally no. For regular damages, absolutely.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/13/2011
Kelaher Law Offices, P.A.
Kelaher Law Offices, P.A. | James P Kelaher
Punitive damages are generally only awarded in case where there is intentional conduct, or in cases where the defendant is so grossly negligent so as to constitute a reckless, willful & wanton disregard for the safety of others.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 6/13/2011
Lyle B. Masnikoff and Associates
Lyle B. Masnikoff and Associates | Lyle B. Masnikoff
You may be able to sue the landlord but may not be able to get punitive damages. Call a personal injury attorney.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 6/13/2011
Law Offices of Tom Patton
Law Offices of Tom Patton | Thomas C. Patton
Most jurisdictions allow Landlord tenant claims, and some provide for attorney fees. You can certainly file a claim for damages, but whether punitive damages are allowed typically depends on how bad the defendant acted. Punitive damages are usually subject to a very stringent standard, such as acting "with gross disregard to the health and life of others." You should consult with an attorney in your area.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 6/13/2011
Law Offices of Earl K. Straight
Law Offices of Earl K. Straight | Earl K. Straight
To make a case for punitive damages, you must show fraud, malice or gross negligence. It is a difficult burden of proof. The specific facts of your case would determine whether punitive damages might be appropriate, but whether they are or not does not affect your right to sue for all your actual damages.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 6/13/2011
    Cary J. Wintroub & Associates
    Cary J. Wintroub & Associates | Sheldon J. Aberman
    It is unlikely that you can sue your landlord for punitive damages. While it sounds like you have a valid negligence claim against your landlord, the actions of your landlord must rise to a level of egregious willful or reckless conduct for a judge to grant you leave to pursue a punitive claim against your landlord.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 6/13/2011
    Law Office of Travis Prestwich, PC
    Law Office of Travis Prestwich, PC | Travis Prestwich
    You probably cannot sue for punitive damages, but you would have a claim for negligence, violation of the Landlord-Tenant Act, etc. A lawyer can discuss those details with you.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/13/2011
    El Dabe Law Firm
    El Dabe Law Firm | Edmond El Dabe
    You may only be able to sue of you can prove gross negligence. Consult with a lawyer on this issue. You can sue for compensatory damages.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/13/2011
    Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A.
    Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A. | Christopher J. Roberts
    I would say you have a case for recovering compensatory damages against the landlord if the structure was neglected, and he/she had notice of the problem and failed to fix it before the damage occurred. If he failed to maintain the building and it caused damage to your property, you can seek compensation under a variety of possible legal theories. Punitive damages are very difficult to obtain. In most states, you have to prove gross negligence, and many states require misconduct that is essentially criminal in nature (e.g., intentional infliction of harm). But there may be a statute in your jurisdiction that applies specifically to the landlord/tenant relationship, that could afford damages greater than your actual losses (e.g., punitive in nature). You should talk to a lawyer in your area who could better determine your best cause of action in your jurisdiction.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 2/21/2012
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
    Punitives are rare in NC and usually only in the most egregious cases. Wont hurt to ask.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Ramunno & Ramunno, P.A.
    Ramunno & Ramunno, P.A. | Lawrence A. Ramunno
    You can sue for compensatory and punitive but the punitive damages part of your claim will be difficult to prove.
    Answer Applies to: Delaware
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    Here is a link you may find helpful http://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/Law/landlord.htm.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 6/13/2011
    Anderson & Bliven P.C.
    Anderson & Bliven P.C. | Scott Anderson
    Most states only allow for actual damages, including replacement costs for damage to your personal property plus inconvenience damages. You should contact an attorney in your state to see what types of damages you may be able to recover.
    Answer Applies to: Montana
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
    Without some personal injury, I doubt that you will reach punitive damages. Further, read your lease. There may be language that prevents recovery at all. However, if there is no prohibitive language, and your landlord was on notice of the problem and failed to act reasonably to correct it, AND you sustained property damage, you should be able to make a claim for compensatory damages to your property. Stay well.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Frances R. Johnson
    Frances R. Johnson | Frances R. Johnson
    There is not enough information from this post for me to answer this question. You would need to take your lease to an attorney to review to consider all of the possible causes of action.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Kirshner & Groff
    Kirshner & Groff | Richard M. Kirshner
    Doubtful for punitive damages but your actual damages are probably compensated. Speak to a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    Michigan does not recognize punitive damages. Regular damages, yes.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    David F. Stoddard
    David F. Stoddard | David F. Stoddard
    Yes, but punitive damages is in the discretion of the court, and are not always awarded.
    Answer Applies to: South Carolina
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Rose, Senders & Bovarnick, LLC
    Rose, Senders & Bovarnick, LLC | Paul S. Bovarnick
    Punitive damages are rarely awarded, and only for the most wanton and egregious conduct. However, under both tort law and landlord tenant law, you landlord may be liable to you for the cost of the property that was destroyed, and for any damages related to a physical injury, including doctor bills, pain and suffering and lost wages. You should consult a lawyer knowledgeable about landlord tenant law.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    David Hoines Law
    David Hoines Law | David Hoines
    Probably not, but you have remedies under landlord tenant law.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Law Offices of Steven A. Fink
    Law Offices of Steven A. Fink | Steven Alan Fink
    Probably not. The key is that building is neglected. If landlord is negligent you cannot get punitive damages. Only if landlords actions are willful or malicious. Very hard standard to prove here.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo
    Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo | Mark Leonardo
    You can sue the landlord for the damage to your property. If the landlord is insured, the insurance carrier will pay for the damage to your property. If you have to stay in a hotel while they do repairs, they must pay for that too. Punitive damages are likely not part of the equation unless the landlord was repeatedly put on notice of the problems and refused to take precautionary measures.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    No, but you can sue him for any personal injuries or property damage. If you were injured in this incident, we can represent you.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    LT Pepper Law
    LT Pepper Law | Luke T. Pepper
    You can claim against your landlord insurance to compensate for your losses but there is punitive damages.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Allen Murphy Law
    Allen Murphy Law | W. Riley Allen
    No. It's negligence, but not punitive. Watching too many stupid lawyer commercials.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Cary J. Wintroub & Associates
    Cary J. Wintroub & Associates | Cary J. Wintroub
    Based on facts presented it sounds like you have an action for negligent maintenance and breach of contract for damages sustained. It is unlikely that the actions of the Landlord will allow for punitive damages.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 6/10/2011
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