Understanding California Premises Liability Claims
Explore Vital California Laws & Common Types Of Premises Liability Cases
Almost 40 million Americans visit the doctor each year as a result of an accidental injury. Many of these injuries occur as a result of someone else’s negligence.
If you were injured on someone else’s’ property in the state of California because the property owner was negligent, you may be able to recover compensation.
Keep reading to learn more about California’s premises liability laws, the most common types of premises liability cases, and how to go about making a claim.
In order to win a premises liability lawsuit, the injured party must be able to prove two things. The first is that the defendant owed a duty of care. This is based on what any reasonable property owner would do under similar circumstances.
Then, the injured party must prove that the defendant breached that duty of care. The jury will take into account many factors about the property and the condition causing the injury to determine whether the defendant breached the duty of care.
The injured party must prove that they were injured as a result of the negligence of the defendant and that they incurred damages as a result of their injury.
Determining Who is Responsible
If you are injured on someone else’s property, you may be able to sue the person or company that owns, leases, occupies, or controls the property. In most cases, the responsible party doesn’t have to own, possess and control the property; they only have to control it.
In many cases, there are multiple responsible parties. Who exactly is responsible depends on the type of property in question. Property owners can’t delegate the duty to keep their property safe to someone else. For example, even if a property owner hires an independent contractor to fix an unsafe condition, the property owner is still responsible for the condition of the property.
Here are some of the most common defendants in premises liability cases:
- Business owners
- Parent companies
- Property management companies
- Retail Centers
- Employees of any of the above
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Examples of Premises Liability Cases
Premises liability claims can arise out of injuries that occur on just about every type of property. These include retail stores, parking lots, residences, apartment buildings, office buildings, and even government property. Let’s take a look at the most common types of premises liability cases.
Slip and Falls
Slip and falls are one of the most common types of accidents resulting in liability claims. Slip and falls often occur due to unsafe conditions on the property, either because the property wasn’t maintained properly or the responsible party failed to warn visitors about known hazards.
Longterm issues such as broken and missing railings, uneven flooring, loose carpets, unsafe rugs, and uncovered cables can cause people to slip and fall. Short term issues such as spills, leaks, and open construction areas can be just as hazardous.
If the party responsible for maintaining the property knew or should have known about the unsafe condition and failed to fix and/or warn visitors, they may be held liable for any injury resulting from the unsafe condition.
In California, an employer can be held liable for the negligence of its employees. If an employee fails to fix a dangerous condition or notices one and doesn’t tell their employer, the employer is still liable for any negligent actions or inactions of the employee within the scope of their employment. This is called vicarious liability.
Constructions Site Accidents
Constructions sites are full of potential hazards. Property owners can be held liable for not only accidents that occur on the property, but for those that occur just off the property but are caused by the dangerous conditions of the construction site.
Injuries to visitors or passersby resulting from construction are often caused by the negligence of the property owner. For example, property owners have a duty to put up signs and block access to construction zones to prevent visitors from accidentally wandering into a dangerous area and getting hurt.
Waterpark and Amusement Park Injuries
California is home to many waterparks and amusement parks that host large crowds every day. Owners of these facilities are responsible for providing a safe environment for their customers.
This includes maintaining line up areas, parking lots, food and drink service areas and of course, the rides themselves. If you are injured at an amusement park or a waterpark, you may be able to sue for damages.
Accidents at Homes
Premises liability cases are not limited to injuries that occur in public places. If you are injured at or in someone’s home, you can file a claim against the homeowner through their homeowner’s insurance.
If you’re visiting the home of a friend, family member, neighbor, or even a stranger, that homeowner is responsible for ensuring their property is kept in a safe condition. If you are injured because of their negligence, you can sue them for damages.
If you’re a renter and your landlord allows unsafe conditions in your rental property, you may have a premises liability claim.
Economic damages include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Future medical expenses
- Lost earning capacity
- Property damage
Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of limb(s)
- If you are killed as a result of a premises liability accident, your family can file a wrongful death claim.
Find Out If You Have A Case.
The Claims Process and Why You Need A Lawyer?
The first step in the process of pursuing a premises liability claim is filing a claim with the relevant insurance companies. If you can reach a fair settlement with the insurance company without filing a lawsuit, you can save time.
You will need proof of loss including medical bills, medical records, and lost wage documentation to prove your case. The insurance adjuster will conduct an investigation and will ask you to provide a statement. They will interview witnesses, conduct a scene investigation, and negotiate a settlement with you or deny your claim.
If you can’t agree on a reasonable settlement or your claim is denied, you have the option to file a lawsuit. In California, you have 2 years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit.
It is highly recommended that you are represented by an experienced personal injury lawyer during this process. The insurance company is a representative of the defendant and they don’t have your best interest in mind. Your lawyer will walk you through each step of the process and help you get a fair settlement.
If a settlement can’t be reached, your lawyer will show the insurance company how serious you are and will file a lawsuit. Your lawyer is the only one on your side in the claims process. They will make sure you get the medical care you need and their team will handle the task of gathering the evidence you need to make your case.
When you’re injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, the last thing you need is the stress of jumping through an insurance company’s hoops.
Contact Us Today for Free Legal Advice
If you were injured on someone else’s property and you believe they may be at fault, we are for you. We can help you file a premises liability claim or lawsuit.
California law requires property owners to put the safety of visitors and customers first. While understanding the complexities of premises liability laws can be challenging, our team of experienced personal injury lawyers and staff are here to help you every step of the way.
Let us help you navigate the claims process and make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
Premises Liability Law FAQ's
1. What is California premises liability law? Premises liability law in California refers to the legal concept that holds property owners and occupiers responsible for accidents and injuries that occur on their property. If someone gets injured on another person’s property due to unsafe conditions or negligence, the property owner may be held liable for the damages.
2. What are common examples of premises liability cases in California? Common examples of premises liability cases in California include slip and fall accidents, inadequate security leading to assaults, dog bites, swimming pool accidents, and injuries caused by defective property conditions.
3. Are property owners automatically liable for any accident that occurs on their property? No, property owners are not automatically liable for all accidents that happen on their premises. To establish liability, it must be shown that the property owner knew or should have known about the hazardous condition and failed to take reasonable steps to address it.
4. What should I do if I get injured on someone else’s property in California? If you sustain injuries on someone else’s property in California, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately. Additionally, report the incident to the property owner or the responsible party and gather evidence, such as photographs of the accident scene and any visible injuries.
5. Can I file a premises liability lawsuit if I was injured on public property in California? Yes, you may be able to file a premises liability lawsuit if you were injured on public property in California. However, suing a government entity can be more complex, and there are specific rules and time limits (statute of limitations) that apply in such cases.
6. How long do I have to file a premises liability claim in California? In California, the statute of limitations for premises liability claims is generally two years from the date of the accident. It is crucial to consult with an attorney promptly to ensure you meet the deadline for filing your claim.
7. What types of compensation can I seek in a premises liability case in California? In a premises liability case in California, you may seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, property damage, and other related damages resulting from the accident.
8. Should I hire an attorney for a premises liability claim in California? While you are not required to hire an attorney, it is highly advisable to do so. An experienced premises liability attorney can navigate the complexities of California law, gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries and losses.
9. What can property owners do to prevent premises liability cases in California? Property owners can take several steps to prevent premises liability cases in California. This includes conducting regular inspections of their property, promptly addressing any hazardous conditions, providing adequate warning signs, and maintaining a safe environment for visitors.
10. Can I still file a claim if the property owner is disputing liability in California? Yes, you can still file a claim if the property owner is disputing liability. A skilled attorney can help build a strong case and present evidence to establish the property owner’s responsibility for the accident.
11. Are there any exceptions to the statute of limitations in premises liability cases in California? Yes, there are exceptions to the statute of limitations in premises liability cases. For example, if the injured party was a minor at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations may be extended.
12. Can a premises liability claim be settled out of court in California? Yes, many premises liability claims in California are resolved through settlement negotiations without going to court. However, if a fair settlement cannot be reached, the case may proceed to trial.
13. What should I do if the insurance company offers me a low settlement for my premises liability claim in California? If the insurance company offers you a low settlement, it is crucial not to accept it without consulting with an attorney. Insurance companies may try to minimize payouts, but an experienced attorney can negotiate on your behalf to secure the compensation you deserve.
14. Are businesses in California required to have liability insurance for premises accidents? While California does not mandate businesses to carry liability insurance for premises accidents, many businesses choose to have this coverage to protect themselves from potential lawsuits and claims.
15. Can I sue for punitive damages in a premises liability case in California? In some circumstances, punitive damages may be awarded in premises liability cases in California. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for willful misconduct or gross negligence.
16. Can I file a premises liability claim against a private homeowner in California? Yes, you can file a premises liability claim against a private homeowner in California if you are injured on their property due to their negligence or failure to maintain a safe environment.
17. How much does it cost to hire a premises liability attorney in California? Most premises liability attorneys in California work on a contingency fee basis, which means they only get paid if they successfully recover compensation for you. The attorney’s fee is typically a percentage of the amount awarded.
18. What happens if I am partially at fault for the accident in a premises liability case in California? California follows a comparative negligence rule, which means your compensation may be reduced if you are partially at fault for the accident. However, as long as you are not more than 50% at fault, you may still recover damages.
19. Can I still pursue a premises liability claim if I signed a liability waiver in California? Liability waivers are not always enforceable, especially if they were improperly drafted or if gross negligence was involved. Consult with an attorney to determine if you can still pursue a claim despite signing a waiver.
20. What distinguishes premises liability law from general personal injury law in California? Premises liability law in California specifically deals with accidents and injuries that occur on another person’s property. General personal injury law covers a broader range of accidents and injuries caused by various types of negligence.
21. Is there a time limit for reporting a premises liability accident to the property owner in California? While there is no specific time limit for reporting a premises liability accident to the property owner, it is advisable to notify them as soon as possible after the incident to ensure prompt investigation and documentation.
22. Can I still pursue a premises liability claim if I was trespassing on the property in California? Trespassers are generally owed a lower duty of care than invited guests or customers. However, property owners still have a responsibility not to intentionally harm trespassers, and you may have a claim if the property owner’s actions caused your injuries.
23. Can I handle a premises liability claim on my own without an attorney in California? While you can handle a premises liability claim on your own, it is not recommended. An attorney can provide valuable legal expertise and increase your chances of obtaining fair compensation.
24. Can I file a premises liability claim for emotional distress without physical injuries in California? In California, you may be able to file a premises liability claim for emotional distress without physical injuries under certain circumstances. These cases can be complex and require strongC