Premises liability cases involve injuries that occurred on someone else’s property.
A property owner can be held legally responsible for damages that take place on their property in certain situations. If you slip and fall in a grocery store, do you have a premises liability case? If you can prove negligence against the property owner or business tenant, you might have a valid legal claim. Pursuing compensation in these matters can be complicated, which is why it’s crucial to retain a skilled California premises liability attorney.
What Is Premises Liability?
Under premises liability laws, property owners must keep their property in a reasonably safe condition for visitors. They must warn visitors and guests of any dangerous conditions, especially those hazards that may not be open and obvious. If a jury decides a property owner is negligent, injured victims have a right to recover compensation for their injuries and other damages.
Property owners cannot avoid legal responsibility by claiming to not know about the hazard. To determine whether a property owner should’ve learned about the dangerous condition, look at factors such as:
- How obvious was the danger?
- Were there complaints about any hazardous conditions?
- How long did the hazardous condition exist?
- Did the hazard injure anyone else?
- Were there poor attempts at fixing the dangerous condition?
Premises liability doesn’t typically deal with minor or trivial defects. Determining what a dangerous condition is can depend on the type of property. If property owners cannot fix the hazard, they must at least warn visitors. A property owner can achieve this by posting a visible notice that warns arriving visitors before they are in a situation that could result in harm.
Types of Premises Liability Cases in California
Some people mistakenly assume premises liability cases deal only with slip and fall accidents. While attorneys typically file a significant number of slip and fall lawsuits on behalf of clients, many other accidents fall under premises liability laws. Some of the most common premises liability cases in California include the following:
- Slip and falls: uneven flooring, loose carpets, spilled liquids, ice, missing stair railing, broken stairs, etc.;
- Dog bites: bites and other injuries caused by someone’s animal;
- Construction accidents: crane accidents, falls from scaffolding and ladders, roofing accidents, no warning signs for people passing by, etc.;
- Amusement parks and waterparks: rides, parking lots, line areas, and food-service outlets;
- Swimming pools: falls and drownings at either public or private pools;
- Elevators and escalators: Faulty equipment and negligent maintenance; and
- Negligent security: Assault or other crimes that occur due to a lack of proper security.
Premises liability claims arise from injuries sustained on nearly every type of property. You could be injured at a private residence, public parking lot, shopping mall, retail store, school campus, apartment complex, government building, hospital, and more.
California Premises Liability Laws
Premises liability in California is based on negligence. Property owners and those who occupy a property have a legal obligation to keep their property in a reasonably safe condition. If they do not or fail to warn visitors about hazards, they could be held legally responsible. Establishing the threshold for what’s reasonably safe will depend on what a prudent property owner would have done when faced with similar circumstances. Unfortunately, determining what a reasonable property owner would do is not necessarily straightforward. If your case is decided through a jury trial, the jury will consider multiple factors before finalizing a liability decision. Some of these factors can include:
- Where the property is located;
- The chances of another person entering the property in the same manner as you;
- The likelihood that an injury would result;
- Whether the owner was aware of the hazardous condition or should’ve known;
- Who had the burden of reducing or avoiding the risk; and
- The degree of control the owner had over the hazardous condition.
California premises liability laws allow you to sue the person or company who owns, leases, occupies, or controls the property where you were injured. The law doesn’t require this to be the same person or entity. Someone could manage and control the property but not own it. In some cases, you’ll have multiple defendants.
Some property owners and businesses will try to delegate their duty to others, but California’s premises liability laws won’t allow it. That means if an employee doesn’t fix a hazardous condition or warn their employer, the employer could still be liable for someone’s injuries. Under the legal theory of respondeat superior, employers are vicariously liable for any acts of negligence that occur within the course and scope of an employee’s job duties.
How Do I Know If I Have a Case?
To successfully sue for premises liability in California, you must prove negligence against the property owner. To start, you have to show the defendant is the one who owns, leases, or has control of the property. This person or entity has to be the party who is tasked with inspecting, examining, and verifying the property is reasonably safe.
You must show how the defendant was accountable for their property. Is there something missing that would’ve made the property reasonably safe? Consider a negligent security claim for a parking lot assault. Did the store owner know about crimes occurring in the parking lot but fail to install any security cameras or hire a security guard? This case could be an example of breaching a duty of care.
Were you injured due to the hazardous condition? You must show evidence that you suffered injuries on the property due to the dangerous condition. This evidence includes verifiable losses, meaning you must have sought medical treatment, lost time from work, etc. You can be injured, but if you don’t seek medical treatment for your injuries, you won’t be able to prove damages.
Finding the Right Injury Lawyers to Help
Choosing the right premises liability attorney in California is crucial. You need an attorney with the necessary experience and resources to litigate your case. It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to deny premises liability claims, which means your only course of action is to file a lawsuit. Insurance companies scrutinize premises liability cases due to a large number of fraudulent claims. That makes it more difficult when you present a claim for valid injuries.
The right attorney knows how to stand up to the insurance company and fight for the compensation you deserve. If you believe you have a valid premises liability case in California, contact Young Wooldridge, LLP, to schedule an initial consultation. We have years of experience representing California clients for premises liability claims. Let us put our experience and knowledge to work for you and help you fight for the compensation you deserve.