In California, if you have been injured on the property of another (due to some hazard or unsafe condition of the premises), you may be entitled to recover damages from the person or entity that controls the property.
For example, if you are injured in a slip-and-fall accident at a grocery store, you may be entitled to sue the storeowner, even if the storeowner doesn’t own the property, since he controls the premises and is therefore owes a duty of reasonable care to visitors.
Premises liability can be confusing for many would-be plaintiffs, and lawsuits can become very complicated, very quickly — so for now, let’s keep it simple. In California, the Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) provide a useful overview of the elements of a typical premises liability claim. CACI 1000 and 1003 are particularly revealing when read together.
In order to succeed in your premises liability claim, you will have to prove that:
1) the defendant controlled the property;
2) the defendant was negligent in their use or maintenance of the property; and
3) you were harmed as a result of the defendant’s negligent use or maintenance of the property.
What constitutes negligent use or maintenance of the property? CACI 1003 shows us that a defendant will be found negligent if:
1) there was an unsafe condition of the premises that exposes visitors to an unreasonable risk of harm;
2) the defendant knew or should have known that the unsafe condition existed; and
3) the defendant failed to correct the unsafe condition, or warn visitors of the unsafe condition.
Phew! That’s a lot to take in at once.
Unsafe conditions form the basis of premises liability claims. An unsafe condition presents an unreasonable risk of harm to visitors — it is, quite simply, a hazard that must be corrected or warned about. There are a variety of unsafe conditions that can give rise to premises liability claims in California, though certain hazards tend to be more common than others.
Common Types of Unsafe Conditions
Unsafe conditions run the gamut, from artificial to natural. Commonly-encountered unsafe conditions include, but are not necessarily limited, to:
- Falling hazards
- Slipping hazards
- Tripping hazards
- Inadequate security
- Inadequate lighting
- A lack of safety alarms
- Inadequate signage
- Poor visibility
- Building has not been designed to be weather-safe
- Motor vehicle accident and pedestrian accident risks
- And more
Importantly, in the event that you are injured due to an unsafe condition of the defendant’s controlled property, you may not necessarily be entitled to recover damages if the unsafe condition was open and obvious to you. For example, a slipping hazard (i.e., a standing pool of transparent water) might not be obviously visible, but a tripping hazard (i.e., a pile of large rocks left in the middle of a walkway) might be more obvious. The defendant cannot be held liable for those hazards that are obvious and that the plaintiff does not reasonably avoid.
If you’ve suffered an injury on another’s property due to the presence of an unsafe condition of such property, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact West Coast Trial Lawyers at (888) 888-9285 to setup a free consultation with an experienced Los Angeles slip and fall injury lawyer today.