Is the landlord liable if I get shocked by an exposed electrical wire after the landlord told me to jiggle wires to get the air conditioner working? He lives out of state. I am currently awaiting a heart transplant and have an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) in me. The electrical shock disrupted my ICD unit and needed to be replaced 2 weeks later, which cost about $90,000.


Your landlord may be held liable for damages if you can prove that he was negligent when he advised you to “jiggle the wires” to get the air conditioner working, in that he didn’t give you any precautions regarding the matter. Generally speaking, one who alleges negligence must prove that his injury resulted from the tortious act of another person otherwise no tort liability shall be established. However for policy reasons, as an exception,the burden of proving the absence of negligence may be effectively passed on to the other person, in your case the landlord, provided the following conditions are met: First, that the accident is of a kind which ordinarily does not occur in the absence of someone’s negligence; Second, that the accident was caused by an agency or instrumentality within the defendant’s (or defendant’s )exclusive control; And third, that the accident was not due to any voluntary action or contribution on plaintiff’s part. This exception is known as the doctrine of “res ipsa loquitor”.

In your present case, you must prove that your landlord has exclusive control over the property within the premises, particularly the wires of the air-conditioner. regardless if you have “superficial control” over the said property. In one case, it was held that “ a person injured from falling off a broken chair in a restaurant has “control” of the chair while using it; but the restaurant has “exclusive control” in terms of construction, inspection or maintenance of the chair; thus, res ipsa applies so long as it was the condition of the chair, and not its use, that caused the injury”. [See Rose v. Melody Lane of Wilshire (1952) 39 C2d 481, 486, 247 P2d 335, 338] The test of control is somewhat vague and has thus left courts with considerable flexibility in construing this condition.

Moreover, to recover for past (already-incurred) medical expenses, you must prove the following: the amount of each claimed expense; That each of the charges was reasonable; That each of the services or supplies for which medical expenses are claimed was actually given and was reasonably necessary to diagnose or treat the injuries; And that the condition that necessitated each medical-related expense was a proximate (legal) result of the injury caused by defendant. [Calhoun v. Hildebrandt (1964) 230 CA2d 70, 73, 40 CR 690, 693; see Howell v. Hamilton Meats & Provisions, Inc., supra, 52 C4th at 556, 129 CR3d at 335.). I would suggest that you seek personal assistance from a lawyer to guide you with the procedure.

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