Property and business owners and managers have a duty to keep their respective properties safe, including a duty to inspect the property and fix anything that may pose a danger. The extent of that duty is dependent on different factors, like what type of visitor the injured party was. Homeowners' duties are slightly different from other property owners' or business owners' duties.
What matters in the end is this: if you have been injured and it was due to a property or business owner's breach of their duty, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against them and/or their insurance company. At Hollingsworth Law Firm, our personal injury attorney in California will provide the advocacy and representation necessary to obtain the compensation you deserve. Contact us at 831-920-0777 to schedule a Consultation.
Types of Visitors in Premises Liability Cases
The extent of liability a property or business owner has is dependent on the type of visitor the injured party is. There are three types of visitors: trespassers, licensees, and visitors.
Trespassers are not authorized to be on the property. There is no duty to protect trespassers but a property or business owner or manager cannot willfully harm a trespasser. There are two exceptions:
- When landowners know that trespassers frequent the property, there could be liability for an injury if:
- The owner created or maintained a dangerous condition.
- The condition was likely to cause serious bodily injury or death.
- The owner believed or had reason to believe trespassers would discover the condition.
- The owner breached the duty to take reasonable care to warn trespassers of the condition.
- When the trespasser is a child, the property owner has a duty to inspect the property for potentially dangerous conditions that may attract a child. The property owner must take action to correct the unsafe condition. This is known as an attractive nuisance.
Licensees, like dinner guests or meter readers, are foreseeable visitors who are on the property with the owner's express or implied permission but not for the owner's financial benefit. Homeowners and occupiers or renters have a duty to take reasonable care to protect licensees from any known hazards on the property, but there is no duty to inspect the property for hazards.
Invitees, like customers in a store, are foreseeable visitors who are on the property with the owner's permission and for the owner's benefit. The highest level of responsibility is with invitees, where property owners or occupiers owe a higher duty to keep the premises safe and to inspect for any dangers and then, if a dangerous situation, take appropriate action to address it.
Types of Premises Liability Claims in California
There are a wide variety of ways for property hazards to cause an injury. Some of the most common include:
- Slip and fall accidents
- Falling objects, like at construction sites
- Hazardous or toxic chemical exposure
- Defective stairs or railings
- Poorly maintained balconies or decks
- Poorly guarded or maintained swimming pools
- Pool accidents or drowning
- Escalator or elevator accidents
- Inadequate or negligent security
- Dog bites
- Snow and ice accidents
- Inadequate security
- Inadequate maintenance of premises
- Other defective conditions on premises
When the injuries sustained in these accidents prove to be fatal, it can lead to a wrongful death claim.
Personal Injuries and Premise Liability in California
Premises liability claims are often founded on the negligence of a property owner or entity. Negligence is the failure of that property owner to provide a certain level of care that is reasonably expected or required of them by law. When a person is injured because of that negligence, the injured party can claim or sue for personal injuries.
Common personal injuries in premise liability cases include but are not limited to:
- Broken bones
- Electric shocks
- Bruising, contusions, internal bleeding
- Spinal cord injuries
- Neck injuries
- Head injuries
- Scarring and disfigurement
You may also suffer pain and suffering and emotional distress caused by the accident and/or any of the above injuries.
Who Can Be Held Accountable in a Premises Liability Claim in California?
Premise liability claims are brought against the owner or occupier of a piece of property. As such, people or entities most likely to be held accountable are:
- Property owners
- Property management
- Business owners
- Renters or other occupiers
Keep in mind that your personal injury or wrongful death claim will be filed against the insurance policy that covers the property. In some cases, you may also file a claim against the individual property owner or occupier.
Defenses Used by Property Owners Responsible for Your Personal Injury in California
Property owners and/or their insurance company or the insurance adjuster will try to defend themselves. There are three main doctrines that are often employed as defenses: assumption of risk, comparative negligence, and contributory negligence.
Assumption of Risk
The assumption of risk doctrine suggests that you as the victim/plaintiff voluntarily assumed a risk of harm that may have arisen from the negligent or reckless conduct of the defendant, and as such, you cannot recover for the harm. Under this theory, you enter into a risky situation knowingly and therefore cannot claim damages when/if an injury occurs. The defendant must show that you knew or were aware of the danger or risk but undertook it anyway.
Comparative negligence is a partial legal defense in the sense that the plaintiff can still recover if the defendant is successful, but the plaintiff's recovery will be reduced according to their own negligence contributing to the injury. Comparative negligence is a doctrine that most U.S. states follow. There are, however, three different categories of comparative negligence:
- Pure, under which damages are awarded based on the assigned fault determined by the court;
- Modified using the 50 percent bar rule, which means the plaintiff cannot recover damages if they are found to be 50 percent or more at fault; and
- Modified using the 51 percent bar rule, which means the plaintiff cannot recover damages if they are found to be 51 percent or more at fault.
Contributory negligence is a doctrine where the plaintiff cannot collect damages if they are found to be at fault in any shape or form. That means, even if one percent is at fault, injured parties cannot recover 99 percent of their damages from the other party. Only a handful of states still adhere to this doctrine.
At Hollingsworth Law Firm, we will address and counter any defenses the other party invokes. We have a thorough understanding of the law and will build your premises liability case accordingly.
Why Hire a Premises Liability Lawyer in Monterey
Premises liability cases can be complex. You need a premises liability and personal injury lawyer not only for the latter reason but for these reasons as well:
- You will get the legal representation you need and avoid delays and pitfalls because of it.
- You will level the playing field between you and the property owner, who sometimes can have resources that severely outweigh your capabilities.
- An experienced personal injury lawyer will account for all potentially recoverable damages so that you get the compensation you deserve.
- If a fair and just settlement is not negotiated, you can rest assured that you will be well-represented if the case goes to trial.
Contact a Premises Liability Lawyer in California Today
Do not suffer in silence. Our personal injury lawyer in California will be your voice during this difficult time. At Hollingsworth Law Firm, we know the law and have the resources to investigate and build your case. Contact us today at 831-920-0777 or fill out our online form to schedule your Consultation.