Losing a beloved friend or family member is one of the most difficult experiences a person can go through. But when a loved one dies from someone else’s negligence, it makes the situation even harder.
Miya Marcano, 19, was a resident and employee at Arden Villas Apartments. She went missing on September 24th, 2021, and her body was found in a wooded area near her apartment a few days later, on October 2nd. Armando Caballero, a maintenance employee at the complex, is charged with kidnapping and killing Marcano.
Authorities believe that Caballero used his maintenance-issued master key to enter Marcano’s apartment without her permission and abduct her. Caballero was found dead from an apparent suicide shortly after Marcano was reported missing.
Marcano’s family alleges that prior to her death, Marcano complained to the management at Arden Villas that Caballero was making inappropriate comments to her, which made her feel uncomfortable. According to her family, these concerns were never taken seriously.
Now, Miya’s grieving family is filing a wrongful death claim against Arden Villas Apartments LLC and its parent company, The Preiss Company, which operates and manages Arden Villas.
The family’s attorney, Daryl K. Washington, told local news reporters:
“It has to be different, you have to have stricter policies and procedures in place especially when somebody’s going to be able to go into somebody’s apartment without their permission.”
This tragedy poses an important question:
What duty does a property owner have to their tenants?
Accidents happen all the time, but if a tenant suffers an injury while on the property, they might file a lawsuit. To do so, the tenant must prove that the landlord or property owner failed in their duty.
Landlords and property owners have a legal responsibility to keep the apartment building and surrounding common areas safe for residents.
But what does “safe” mean?
Owners and landlords have a duty to keep their properties safely maintained and danger-free to avoid liability in an accident or injury on their premises.
Common apartment accidents
Several types of accidents can occur within an apartment complex, such as:
Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere at any time. Apartment residents are especially vulnerable with so many stairs, hallways and parking lots.
Insufficient lights, potholes and slippery steps are hazardous and should be fixed by the property owner as soon as possible. These hazards can lead to serious slip-and-fall accidents.
Swimming pool accidents
Several measures exist to ensure residents’ safety at property swimming pools. These areas can pose serious hazards for swimmers as well as passersby.
Managers and property owners should ensure that a fence surrounds the pool. All fences should include a locked gate so no one can enter after hours.
Warning signs telling residents to walk and not run should be posted. The ground around the pool can be slippery and cause someone to slip and fall. Failure to follow these guidelines can lead to serious injuries and fatalities.
Apartment complexes are responsible for the safety of their tenants. This includes making sure there’s ample security to protect the property. Neglecting to provide this security could be grounds for a lawsuit. But the plaintiff must prove that the building owner didn’t take reasonable steps to secure the building.
For example, if someone breaks into a resident’s apartment and assaults them, as in the Marcano case, a negligent security case could be filed against the apartment complex. This is especially true if the perpetrator is an employee, like Caballero, who has special security access into the apartments.
When is the apartment complex liable?
To prove liability, the injured person must show that the property owner failed to maintain safe conditions.
Sometimes the landlord simply doesn’t know there’s a problem. When this is the case, the injured person must show that the problem was something the property owner should have been aware of.
If the landlord is aware of unsafe conditions, they should be noted and addressed. While the problem is being corrected, the owner should also warn residents of the hazard.
Suing landlord or property owner for injuries
Apartment negligence settlements are difficult to navigate without legal knowledge. An experienced accident attorney can help guide you through the process of filing a claim.
The Tampa personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at Lorenzo & Lorenzo will meet with you to discuss your case. Our team of legal advisors will create a roadmap of what to expect if you decide to file a claim. Fighting against negligence is a difficult decision, but we’ll help you every step of the way.