December 4, 2023

Is My Landlord Liable if I’m Scalded in My Apartment?

By Jonathan Damashek

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If you live in an apartment or rent a house, you are not responsible for maintaining amenities like heat or running water. You’re at the mercy of your landlord’s infrastructure. You could be in danger of excessively hot water if your landlord isn’t doing their part to maintain their property. Studies conducted between 2016 and 2018 have found that hot water burns can be a significant concern, with more than 7,000 people hospitalized for severe burns.

Find out why your landlord can be held responsible for your hot water burns, and why you should call a lawyer to help your case.

What Are Hot Water Burns?

Scald injuries happen when someone is burnt by hot water or steam. Minimal burns could cause red, irritated skin. However, it’s possible for burn victims to have peeling skin, blisters, swelling in the afflicted area, or charred skin. The degree of a burn can be challenging to determine. Not every burn will be painful, but it can be severe regardless.

Burns may require treatment at a hospital or with another medical provider. You may need treatment if the skin is charred, if the burns are bigger than your hand, on any sensitive areas, or if it appears you’re going into shock. Severe burn injuries may require extensive treatment, like skin grafts or plastic surgery. If your building’s infrastructure contributed to your injuries, you could pursue a claim against your landlord.

Hot Water and Landlords’ Responsibilities

According to the New York Sanitary Code, landlords must ensure their water fixtures supply water at a constant minimum temperature of 120ºF in multi-family buildings like apartments. The very intent of this regulation is to mitigate the risk of burns.

Your landlord is supposed to provide comfortable living conditions. That means you have a reasonable expectation that you won’t get burnt using your hot water, no matter what appliance you’re using. You might be using the kitchen sink, or your radiator could be leaking. Either way, your landlord needs to ensure livable conditions that aren’t risking injury simply by living there.

Your building’s hot water heater should supply enough hot water for the building without causing discomfort. Some landlords use hot water heaters that keep water way too hot to keep costs down. Some heaters don’t have reliable regulators, so the temperature can get out of hand quickly.

How to Report Excessively Hot Water

If you notice the water in your apartment is too hot consistently, you should let your landlord know. If you have told them multiple times, you can file a complaint with the NYC Housing Preservation and Development department. HPD will try to contact your landlord. If that does not correct the problem, HPD will send its Emergency Repair Program contract to fix the issue.

What Compensation is Available for Burns?

Hot water injuries are a matter of personal injury. You’re owed compensation because you were injured through someone’s negligence. If you or a loved one were burned, you can hold your landlord accountable because they should have acted reasonably to prevent burns.

You’ll have a personal injury claim if you can prove negligence, and you can try to recover your damages. In New York, you can pursue economic and non-economic damages.

Your economic damages are the out-of-pocket expenses your injuries cost you. You might have lost wages because you couldn’t work. You’ll have medical bills to pay, and you might have property that needs repairing. Your non-economic damages are abstract. They’re the losses you experienced because of your economic damages. Even if they’re intangible, you still deserve to be repaid for your suffering. You can pursue damages for your pain and suffering, mental anguish, or loss of consortium.

Why Should I Call an Attorney?

Burns caused by hot water are no joking matter. You’re expecting to have a safe home to live in. If your water is excessively hot, you put yourself at risk by simply using your amenities. If you’ve been burned by excessively hot water, you should be compensated for your pain. A New York personal injury attorney can help you recover your losses.

Your attorney can investigate your case and help you find evidence for your claim. They can request inspection or maintenance records. You’ll be able to use any medical bills or diagnoses as evidence of your loss. Your lawyer will build a case and negotiate with the defense to reach an appropriate settlement. If your landlord won’t give a fair offer, your attorney can prepare for trial to have a jury weigh in.

Call A New York Hot Water Injury Lawyer

At Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C., we understand how difficult it can be to experience an injury in the comfort of your own home. You’re paying money to live in your building, and your landlord should provide a safe environment. That’s why we’ll pursue all available damages in your case. Our burn injury lawyers helped clients collect millions in settlements when negligent behavior hurts them.

Schedule your consultation at (212) 490-5700 or use our online form.