Premises Liability Lawyer for Dangerous Property Conditions
A situation where property owners are found at fault for someone's injuries is commonly known as a premises liability case, which could occur on both public or private property.
To prove liability, it requires that the victim show a dangerous condition existed on the property and it caused the injury.
It must also be proven that the property owner, or someone responsible for maintaining it, knew or should have known of the hazard.
Put simply, property owners must repair any dangerous conditions or at least warn individuals about the hazards. They can't avoid liability by just claiming they didn't know about the dangerous conditions.
The owner or occupier is under a duty to exercise ordinary care in maintaining the property to avoid exposing others to an unreasonable risk of harm.
Property owners have to use reasonable care to identify any unsafe conditions. Actual evidence of whether they knew, or should have known, about a dangerous condition could be shown by:
- multiple complaints about a dangerous condition,
- multiple poor quality attempts to fix the hazard,
- prior injuries that were caused by the hazard,
- length of time the hazard existed,
- dangerous condition is obvious.
Readers should note that property owners are not typically civilly liable for any damages that would be considered a minor or insignificant defect, but it will always depend on the specific type of defect and the extent of a victim's injuries.
Further, the type of property will also dictate what is considered a dangerous condition that a property owner is responsible for.
For example, a grocery store is responsible for looking out for and cleaning up spilled liquids that could cause a slip and fall injury.
You or a loved one may have been injured on someone else's property. It wasn't anything you planned for, and you might feel overwhelmed by medical needs, understanding the law, and knowing what steps to take next.
To help you navigate and take back more control, our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers are going to explain some of the basics of dangerous conditions and premises liability below.
What is Premises Liability According to California Law?
According to California Civil Code 1714, a property owner is responsible for injuries that happen on their premises when the injury is a result of “want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property.”
However, if an individual contributes to their injury through their negligence, the owner may not be responsible.
This is stated in the clause immediately following the statement above: “except so far as the latter has, willfully or by want of ordinary care, brought the injury upon themselves.”
A key document that impacts premises liability is the Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 1000.
Although it is not a law, this document outlines what a plaintiff must establish their claim of negligence in a premises liability lawsuit.
A plaintiff must demonstrate that the:
- Defendant owned, leased, occupied, or otherwise controlled said property;
- Defendant was negligent in how they maintained the property;
- Plaintiff was injured; and
- Defendant's actions or inactions (of negligence) had a substantial role in causing the plaintiff's injury.
Similarly, CACI 1001 outlines the duty of care, which will be explored further below.
Placing a Warning Notice About a Hazard
When a property owner or landlord can't fix a dangerous condition, then they need to place a warning of the hazard.
In this manner, they are being reasonable by putting other people on notice of a potentially dangerous situation so they can avoid it.
The type of warning will depend on the dangerous condition and who might be injured by the hazard.
The notice has to be visible so that other people would be made aware in advance before placing themselves in a situation where they could be harmed.
What Factors Impact “Duty of Care?"
California Civil Jury Instructions 1001, titled “Basic Duty of Care,” describes key factors for a jury to use when they are deciding whether or not the property owner or occupier fulfilled their reasonable care responsibilities:
In deciding whether someone used reasonable care, you may consider, among other factors, the following:
- location of the property;
- likelihood that somebody would come on to the property in the same manner as the victim did;
- likelihood and probable seriousness of harm;
- whether the victim knew or should have known of the condition that created the risk of harm;
- difficulty of protecting against the risk of such harm;
- extent of the property owner or landlord's control over the condition that created the risk of harm;
- any other relevant factors.
Part of what this means in practice is that if someone uses a property in a way that is not expected, liability might be limited.
For example, if an individual were to stand on the railing of a deck and subsequently injure themselves, the owner or renter of the property might not be held liable.
An attorney knowledgeable of the laws and California's civil jury instructions will help you navigate whether or not your circumstances constitute a viable case.
What Constitutes Dangerous Conditions?
Dangerous conditions are not determined by whether or not the owner was aware of them.
In actuality, an owner or occupier is responsible for maintaining the property in such a way as to protect anyone who enters the property from being exposed to harmful circumstances. Examples of dangerous conditions include:
- Exposed wires or cables;
- Fire hazards,
- Unleashed animals (who may bite, for example);
- Holes in the floor;
- Rotted lumber in decks or balconies;
- Wet floors in places of business that are not labeled by a caution sign;
- Falling is a pothole or trip on uneven stairs,
- Tripping on uneven sidewalks from tree roots;
- Slip and fall accident from slippery floors in a grocery store;
- Getting struck by a falling object in a store;
- Falling down unsafe stairs.
What Types of Premises May Have Dangerous Conditions?
There is a wide range of premises that may have dangerous conditions. Some of them, such as construction sites, may seem obvious, while others may surprise you. Here are some of the most common.
- Construction sites,
- Shopping malls,
- Places of business such as retail stores or office buildings.
The most common type of injury associated with premises liability is a slip and fall injury.
How Can an Attorney Assist?
A personal injury lawyer can ensure that all necessary documents and evidence are gathered to help solidify your claim and establish the owner/occupier's negligence.
They can potentially help you acquire items such as:
- Photographs of your injuries and any hazards that were involved;
- Records of any accidents that occurred on the same premises and were similar;
- CCTV camera footage from when your accident took place; and
- Incident and police reports;
- Document the injury by writing down the conditions before somebody quickly fixes it to in an attempt to avoid liability
This documentation will help bolster your case and give you a better chance at recovering compensation.
Possible Financial Compensation
If you have a viable personal injury case for premises liability, you may be entitled to financial compensation. The financial compensation can include coverage of:
- Medical bills;
- Lost wages or lost earning capacity;
- Property damage;
- Future (necessary) medical treatment.
Compensation may also include pain and suffering and other non-economic damages, such as disfigurement, scarring, loss of a limb, and pain and suffering.
If you have questions about how to file a claim for damages that were caused by dangerous property conditions, then contact our law firm for a free case review.
Our personal injury lawyers can review all the details of your premises liability claim to determine whether you are eligible to receive financial compensation.
We don't charge a fee unless we can recover damages. You can contact our law firm at (818) 781-1570, or fill out our contact form.