Premises Accidents

Should you file a premises accident claim? 

Premises accidents can happen in or around every type of structure. The injury is usually caused by some type of unsafe condition of someone’s property. In California, under the right circumstances, you can file a claim if the accident can be attributed to the other party’s negligence. In order to win a premises accident case the evidence must prove that the defendant was negligent and failed to reasonably take the steps to fix the situation and maintain the safety of the property. If the plaintiff played a role in the accident, it will weaken the case and reduce the chances of receiving the desired compensation.  It is also important to note that if you were injured on someone’s property, it does not automatically make the owner liable and not all unsafe conditions on the property makes the owner negligent. Nevertheless, it is a person’s right to expect that others will act with reasonable care, or be held liable if otherwise. 

What are some common types of premises accidents?

Accidents happen. Sometimes our surroundings are to blame for a broken arm or ankle sustained from such accidents. Premises accidents can happen anywhere if the owner of the property fails to upkeep the standards of safety. Common types of accidents can be caused because a landlord neglected to fix a broken step on the staircase, or an insecure object fell from a building at a construction site and onto a by passer. 

Here are a few other examples of premises accidents: 

  • Slip and fall cases
  • Dog bites
  • Amusement park accidents
  • Elevator and escalator accidents 
  • Snow and ice accidents 
  • Construction site accidents

What are California’s premises liability laws?

California’s premises liability laws are based on negligence

California Civil Code 1714 (a) states “Everyone is responsible, not only for the result of his or her willful acts, but also for an injury occasioned to another by his or her want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property or person, except so far as the latter has, willfully or by want of ordinary care and skill is required by this section. The extent of liability in these cases is defined by the title on the compensatory relief.” 

Similar to other personal injury cases, the property owner has a duty of care to others and the public. It is a requirement that the owner of the property acts towards others with watchfulness, attention, and caution that a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstances would exercise. If they do not meet the standard of care, then their acts are considered negligent and any damages are grounds to file a lawsuit for negligence.  

For example: 

  • All drivers must obey traffic laws
  • A property manager has a duty to maintain the premises safe in order to avoid a slip and fall accident. 
  • It is the duty of an employer to make sure employees are familiar with the safety standards of the premises.

In California, what must be proven in a premises accident lawsuit? 

The end result of filing a premises lawsuit is to provide relief to the injured party for the harm that another caused. In order to do so, the plaintiff must prove all of the following: 

  1. The defendant was negligent
  2. The plaintiff was harmed; and 
  3. That the defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s harm. 

To be compensated for any damages it must be proven that the defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing the harm. Any person who owns, leases, occupies, or controls property is negligent if he or she fails to reasonably keep the property in a safe condition. The same person must also use reasonable care to discover any unsafe conditions. Once discovered, they must repair, replace, or give a proper warning of anything that could cause harm to others

Who can I sue if I am injured on someone else’s property? 

There are many instances where a person can suffer an accident on the premises of someone else. It can happen to anyonefor example, a slip and fall accident over a wet floor with no warning sign or an injury on a set of defective stairs. If you are injured on someone else’s property, the owner or operator of the property may be held liable for damages. However, this it is not always the case. Do note that the visitor of the premises, also, has to exercise reasonable care. The defendant cannot be held liable for a trip or fall on an object that any other responsible person would have otherwise seen. Nonetheless, a property owner or those in charge have a duty to upkeep property maintenance. Here is an example of those that can be sued in a premises accident lawsuit: 

  • Homeowner
  • Business owner 
  • Tenant or renter
  • Property management company
  • Parent company
  • Retail center
  • Restaurant 
  • Store 
  • Employee

Trespassers on Property

If the owner is aware that there is a chance that trespassers will enter the property, then the owner has a duty to give reasonable warning to prevent any injury or death. This is only applicable to artificial conditions that the owner has on the premises that could potentially cause serious harm. 

Both parties at fault 

In a premises accident it is common for the defendant to argue that the injured person was partially at fault. As previously mentioned, in some cases a visitor of the property has a legal duty to exercise reasonable care. If they fail to do so, this could mitigate the plaintiff’s evidence. The “comparative fault” system used in personal injury cases can reduce the legal damages by a certain percentage equivalent to how much fault they had in the accident. 

What kind of award for damages is available in a premises liability lawsuit?

Compensatory damages 

  • Medical bills
  • Physical therapy 
  • Continuing medical care
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity

Noneconomic damages

  • Scarring
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of a limb
  • Physical pain and suffering 
  • Mental Anguish
  • Physical limitations 

If the victim is killed in a premises liability accident, the surviving family members may file a wrongful death claim [webpage link] for damages that include: 

  • Burial expenses
  • Funeral costs
  • Support the deceased would have earned as an income
  • Compensation for the loss of support and companionship 

Hiring a lawyer for a personal injury claim?

If you are a victim of injury due to the negligence of another person or entity, do not delay and give us a call. We highly suggest you speak to a lawyer before filing a claim. Our experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand how California’s negligence laws apply to your case, and guide you through the process.