Unfortunately, personal injuries can occur just about anywhere in our beautiful state. While the most common personal injury lawsuits stem from motor vehicle accidents, many other incidents resulting in personal harm involve a legal term known as premises liability.
The Concept of Premises Liability
When an individual suffers an injury on another person’s property due to a dangerous situation, unseen peril or poorly maintained area, premises liability laws help determine whether the property owner was negligent. In California, any property owner has a duty of care to maintain a safe environment for anyone who comes onto the land or enters a building.
Why Premises Liability Is Important
Just like all personal injuries, incidents that fall under the umbrella of premises liability revolve around proving negligence. Unlike some states that put visitors to a property into different categories, such as licensees, invitees and trespassers, California law outlines the duty that a property owner or person controlling the property owes to any visitor in California Civil Code 1714(a).
In general, an owner needs to keep reasonable tabs on the condition of the property and make suitable repairs or replacements for any item or situation that presents a hazard to others. If the dangerous issue cannot be remedied at once, the owner must post a notice or issue warnings to visitors about the situation.
Types of Property and Personal Injury Involved in Premises Liability
Since premises liability in California covers personal injuries that occur to an individual on a property belonging to someone else, they typically happen in buildings or on land in three different categories:
Private Homes or Properties
A variety of accidents occurring in private yards and houses can cause personal injuries to others. These may include slip, trip and fall accidents from improper maintenance of exterior sidewalks or stairs leading to the home, hoses left in the grass or on walkways, or even loose floorboards, torn carpeting, defective stairs or railings inside. Other hazards on private property may include swimming pool accidents, dangerous chemicals used in the yard or left out, or even animal bites inflicted on the property.
Business owners have a duty of care to provide safe conditions for their customers and employees. Slip and fall accidents can result from failing to properly maintain sidewalks or parking lots, clean spills or water from floors, or neglect to remove boxes or other tripping hazards from the aisles. Larger businesses may face suits resulting from defective elevators or escalators. Incompetent security measures can lead to injuries sustained from robbery or personal assault.
Entertainment venues such as amusement parks or water parks are especially vulnerable to lawsuits from personal injuries sustained on their properties. Remember that all businesses are responsible for the failure of employees to report or correct a safety hazard on the premises.
When someone is injured in a building or on other property owned by a local or state government agency in California, special rules for government claims apply. Before a personal injury suit can be filed in court, the injured person must fill out an administrative claim form with the applicable government agency within six months of the injury. The agency is given 45 days to respond, and if it denies the claim, the plaintiff has six months from the mailing of the denial to file a lawsuit in court.
Government entities typically face the same liability issues any commercial business may encounter. This includes inside and outside slip and fall injuries, elevator and escalator accidents, tripping hazards and injuries resulting from faulty security protocols.
Takeaways From Premises Liability
Whether you often visit others and shop in person or run a business and host friends and neighbors in your yard and home, remaining alert and taking proactive measures can avoid personal injuries to yourself and others.
When you frequent properties owned by someone else, remember that not everyone may be vigilant about maintenance and repairs. Keep your eyes open in parking lots, walkways and staircases for repair issues and tripping hazards. If you use an outside area or unfamiliar hallway or room, ask first if there is anything you need to know about.
Make regular inspections and adequate maintenance a priority for your home or business. Stay alert to repair needs and fix them promptly. If you plan a party, do a walk-through of your house and property. Remove clutter that could trip people and post signs in your yard to warn guests of any hazards. Remember that you might be so used to any unusual conditions in your home that you automatically adjust to them, but guests may not have this knowledge.
Legal Help for Premises Liability Issues
If you or a loved one sustain injuries on a business or personal property due to the negligence of the owner, or if someone is injured on your property, the Law Offices of Brent D. George can help assess your case, sort out the legal issues and advise you on the next steps. Call us at (805) 494-8400 to schedule a free consultation.