Understanding California Premises Liability Laws
Understanding California Premises Liability Laws
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.
Premises Liability in California
In the state of California, property owners have what is called a “duty of care” to keep their property in a reasonably safe condition. If you own, control, or possess property, you are required to maintain and inspect your property, repair dangerous conditions, and/or warn visitors of any dangerous conditions.
If a property owner or occupier fails to keep their property in a reasonably safe condition, they may be considered negligent under premises liability laws. They may be held liable for any injuries that are sustained as a result of their negligence. An injured person can file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the responsible parties.
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
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.
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.
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.
Dog bites and injuries caused by animals are another common type of premises liability. California has a generous statute regarding dog bite liability that allows victims to recover compensation for dog bite claims even if the owner did nothing wrong. This is called strict liability.
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.
Call The Scranton Law Firm For A Free Legal Consultation
Making a Premises Liability Claim
If you were injured on someone else’s property and incurred damages, you can file a claim or a lawsuit. You can seek damages for both economic and non-economic losses.
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.
The Claims Process and Why You Need an Attorney
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 attorney during this process. The insurance company is a representative of the defendant and they don’t have your best interest in mind. Your attorney will walk you through each step of the process and help you get a fair settlement.
If a settlement can’t be reached, your attorney will show the insurance company how serious you are and will file a lawsuit. Your attorney 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.