premises liability

Whether a home or business, you expect to be safe when you visit someone’s property. But devastating accidents can occur when property owners and managers don’t maintain safe premises. If you were injured on someone’s property because of unsafe conditions, you deserve to seek compensation for your medical bills and other losses related to the accident.

At The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP, our premises liability lawyers can help you pursue financial relief and accountability for injuries you suffered on someone else’s property. For over 80 years, our firm has provided high-quality, effective legal representation to clients in Bakersfield and the surrounding area. We have the experience, knowledge, and resources to advocate for your rights in a premises liability case.

Contact an experienced Young Wooldridge premises liability lawyer in Bakersfield today to get started with a free consultation.

What Is Premises Liability?

Premises liability is a legal theory that allows someone injured on another person’s property to seek compensation for the harm they have suffered due to unsafe conditions.

To bring a claim under premises liability, a person (or “claimant”) must prove the following elements:

  • The defendant owned, leased, or otherwise controlled the property in question.
  • The defendant was negligent in the use or maintenance of the property.
  • The claimant was harmed.
  • The defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing the claimant’s harm.

A premises liability claim is based on a theory of negligence, which means that the property owner or manager had a legal duty to exercise reasonable care (also known as “duty of care”) and breached that duty, causing an injury.

Under the California Civil Code, property owners must maintain their premises reasonably safe, known as the “reasonable care” standard. They can be liable for injuries to others resulting from a lack of care in managing their properties.

Generally, a property owner is negligent if they fail to use reasonable care to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition, discover unsafe conditions, repair them, or warn visitors of potential harm.

Who Is Responsible for an Injury in a Premises Liability Case?

In California, if you are injured on someone else’s property, you can generally take legal action against the individual or company that:

  • Owns
  • Leases
  • Occupies
  • Controls the property

Determining who is responsible for an injury in a premises liability case often depends on the property type. Generally, property owners are liable for injuries that are caused by unsafe conditions on their premises. The parties that may be responsible in a premises liability case include:

  • Homeowners
  • Business owners
  • Tenants or renters
  • Property management companies
  • Restaurants, stores, or employees of these entities

When evaluating a premises liability claim, a court will look at the following factors to determine whether a property owner is liable for the plaintiff’s injuries:

  • The property’s location
  • The likelihood that someone would enter the property as the plaintiff did
  • The likelihood of injury and probable seriousness of such an injury
  • Whether the owner knew or should have known about the hazardous condition
  • How hard it would be for the property owner to have addressed the hazard
  • How much control the property owner had over the hazardous condition

Common Premises Liability Claims

Premises liability accidents can happen almost anywhere, including on government property, in public parks, at retail centers, and in private homes. Some examples of premises liability accidents that we commonly see in the cases we handle include:

  • Slip and Fall Accidents – These are among the most common incidents leading to premises liability claims. A freshly mopped floor, an icy patch on a walkway, or a spilled drink in a restaurant can all lead to devastating slip-and-fall accidents.
  • Swimming Pool Accidents – Swimming pools can pose serious safety concerns, especially for children. Inadequate fencing, improper maintenance, lack of safety equipment, or poor supervision can all lead to drownings and other tragic accidents. Slip and fall accidents are also common around swimming pools where water has accumulated.
  • Inadequate Building Maintenance – Leaky roofs causing wet floors, faulty wiring leading to electrical shocks, or crumbling infrastructure can result in serious accidents.
  • Insufficient Security Measures – Property owners and managers might be liable for injuries resulting from criminal activity due to a lack of or inadequate fencing, security guards, surveillance cameras, and other safety measures.
  • Injuries Caused by Animals – An Injury caused by an animal might fall under premises liability depending on the circumstances. However, California law imposes strict liability on a dog owner that bites or attacks another person in a public place or lawfully on private property, so premises liability does not apply in these cases.
  • Elevator and Escalator Accidents – Property owners that fail to maintain elevators and escalators can be liable for injuries that result from their unsafe operation. However, the elevator or escalator manufacturer might be liable if the injury results from a faulty product.
  • Amusement Park Accidents – Amusement Park and Water Park companies must maintain safe premises, including the rides, food service areas, parking lots, and other areas where park visitors might congregate.
  • Injuries on Stairs – Broken or rotted stairs or loose handrails can lead to catastrophic accidents.
  • Construction Site Accidents – Falling debris, unsecured scaffolding, exposed wiring, and other hazards at construction sites can lead to devastating injuries to workers and bystanders.
  • Home Accidents – Premises liability accidents can also occur in another person’s home. These accidents can be caused by chemical fumes, faulty wiring, falling tree limbs, deck and balcony collapses, drowning, poisoning, or inadequate maintenance of stairs or walkways.

Common Places Where Premises Liability Accidents Occur

Premises liability accidents can happen almost anywhere, but some of the most common places where these incidents occur include the following:

  • Retail stores
  • Restaurants, bars, and nightclubs
  • Office buildings
  • Residential properties
  • Parking lots and commercial garages
  • Hotels and resorts
  • Public parks and playgrounds
  • Hospitals and care facilities
  • Construction sites
  • Schools and universities
  • Swimming pools
  • Sidewalks
  • Amusement parks and water parks

What Kinds of Damages Can You Pursue in a Premises Liability Case?

The compensation in a premises liability case might depend on the harm caused, the severity of the injuries, and other factors. Typically, plaintiffs in premises liability cases can pursue compensation for the following losses:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages and reduced future earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Diminished quality of life due to a long-term injury or disability
  • Damaged personal property

Why You Should Hire a Bakersfield Premises Liability Attorney at The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP

Hiring a premises liability attorney is essential to protecting your rights after an accident. An experienced premises liability lawyer in Bakersfield can help you by:

  • Leveraging Resources and Knowledge of State Law – A local premises liability lawyer will be deeply familiar with the state laws governing premises liability cases and able to identify the best legal option for your circumstances. An experienced attorney will have the resources to gather and preserve crucial evidence, including expert testimony.
  • Calculating the Full Extent of Your Losses – An attorney can review your records and receipts of expenses related to your accident to determine how much compensation you deserve for your injuries. They will consider your past, current, and future expenses to help you seek the maximum compensation you need to move forward with your life.
  • Handling Legal Paperwork and Procedures – Let our attorney navigate the complexities of the legal system while you focus on healing from your injuries. A premises liability lawyer can ensure that legal paperwork is filed correctly and on time to protect your right to seek compensation.
  • Negotiating with Insurance Companies – An experienced premises liability lawyer will have the skills and experience to negotiate aggressively with insurance companies on your behalf to help you seek fair compensation. They will be familiar with insurers’ tactics to deny or minimize claims and can advocate for your rights and interests.
  • Representing You in Court – Should settlement negotiations fail because the other side won’t agree to a fair amount, our Bakersfield premises liability attorney will be prepared to take your case to trial to advocate for the financial relief you deserve.