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  • Alex Aronov, Esq.

Navigating Premises Liability Cases in California


Understanding Premises Liability:

 

Premises liability refers to the legal responsibility of property owners to maintain safe conditions on their premises. When individuals suffer injuries due to hazardous conditions on someone else's property, they may seek compensation through a premises liability claim. In California, premises liability claims typically revolve around the duty of care owed by property owners to individuals who enter their premises. Understanding the nuances of California premises liability law is crucial for individuals who suffered injuries on another's property.

 

Duty of Care:

 

Under California Civil Code section 1714, property owners owe a duty of care to individuals who are lawfully present on their property. This duty requires property owners to maintain safe conditions and to warn visitors of any known hazards that could pose a risk of harm. The extent of the duty of care owed by a property owner depends on the legal status of the visitor, which is categorized into three main groups:

 

1. Invitees: These are individuals who enter the property for a purpose that is beneficial to the property owner, such as customers in a store. Property owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees and must take reasonable steps to ensure their safety.

 

2. Licensees: Licensees are individuals who enter the property with the owner's permission but for their own purposes, such as social guests. Property owners have a duty to warn licensees of any known dangers on the property but are not necessarily required to inspect for hidden hazards.

 

3. Trespassers: Trespassers enter the property without permission. While property owners generally do not owe a duty of care to trespassers, they cannot intentionally harm them and must refrain from setting traps or hazards intended to injure trespassers.

 

Common Causes of Premises Liability Claims:

 

Premises liability claims in California can arise from a wide range of hazardous conditions. However, the most common scenarios involve:

 

-        Slip and fall accidents due to wet floors, uneven surfaces, or inadequate lighting;

-        Trip and fall accidents caused by obstacles or debris in walkways;

-        Inadequate security leading to assaults or other criminal acts on the premises;

-        Dog bites and other animal-related injuries;

-        Swimming pool accidents resulting from lack of proper fencing or supervision;

-        Negligent maintenance of elevators, escalators, or other mechanical equipment;

 

Statute of Limitations:

 

It's important to note that premises liability claims in California are subject to a two-year statute of limitations. Failing to file within this timeframe can result in the forfeiture of the right to seek compensation.

 

Types of Defendants:

 

Premises liability cases can encompass a large variety of defendants. Property owners and tenants can both be named defendants in cases. These can range from individuals owning a home or a business to large corporations owning multiple properties and locations. Likewise, many premises liability cases can involve governmental entities as well. Often defendants will overlap and a case may involve both governmental entities and private properties who have shared responsibility about the maintenance and upkeep of a property and its surrounding area.

 

Damages:

 

Recoverable damages in property liability cases are generally limited to the following categories:

 

  • Economic Damages: These encompass quantifiable losses such as medical expenses and lost wages resulting from the injury sustained on the premises;

 

  • Non-Economic Damages: This category includes intangible losses like pain and suffering and emotional distress experienced as a consequence of the accident;

 

  • Punitive Damages: When extreme negligence by the property owner is evident, a court may award punitive damages. These serve as a deterrent against similar misconduct in the future and aim to punish the responsible party for their actions.

 

Conclusion:

 

Navigating premises liability cases in California requires a thorough understanding of the legal principles governing property owner liability and the rights of injured individuals. Our team of experienced attorneys is dedicated to achieving optimal outcomes for our clients. Trust Gomerman Bourn & Associates to deliver the legal expertise and personalized attention necessary to effectively navigate premises liability cases in California.

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