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Personal Injuries on a Properties: All About Premises Liability Law

All property owners, including owners of private and government property in Los Angeles, have a legal duty to keep their premises safe. Therefore, a property owner may be held liable for failing to maintain their premises in safe conditions if someone is injured,sexually assaulted, or killed because of their negligence. 

Whether you slipped on a wet floor in a shopping mall, tripped on debris at a grocery store, or fell on a broken step at a neighbor’s home, your injuries can be severe and life changing. If you have suffered injuries in a premises liability incident, you may be entitled to compensatory damages for:

1. California Premises Liability Explained

According to California Civil Code 1714(a): “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…”

Determining who’s at fault in a premises liability case is complex. Premises liability lawsuits require an injured individual to prove that he or she was harmed because of a property owner/manager’s negligence. An injured individual must specifically prove that the:

  • Plaintiff was hurt
  • Defendant acted negligently regarding use or maintenance of the property
  • Defendant's negligence was the primary factor that caused a plaintiff's injuries
  • Defendant leased, owned, occupied, or was controlling the property where the incident took place

As mentioned, all property owners have a duty of care to reasonably maintain their premises. A duty of care for a property owner essentially encompasses any actions that a reasonable property owner should take or should have taken in similar circumstances.

It’s also important to understand that a property owner’s duty of care may vary depending on who is on their property. Also, there are situations where an injured individual contributed negligence towards causing an accident. In such cases, liability may be shared between the property owner and the injured individual.

When it comes to deciding if a property owner/manager breached his or her duty of care, the following will be considered:

  • Where is the property located?
  • How likely is an injury to occur given the circumstances?
  • How serious could such an injury be in these circumstances?
  • How much control did the property owner have over the hazardous condition?
  • How much of a burden would it have been to minimize or eliminate the hazardous condition?
  • Did the owner know about or should have known about the hazardous condition that caused the accident?

Think you have a premises liability claim? Take our quiz.

2. Who Do I Sue in a Premises Liability Case?

An individual who was hurt on another person’s property can typically file a premises liability claim for damages against any person or company that owns, leases, occupies, or controls the property where the accident took place.

Property owners or managers cannot completely shield themselves from liability by purchasing premises liability insurance or by delegating the important task of maintaining their property in safe conditions. A property owner or manager is always responsible for the safety of their premises, even if they delegate maintenance tasks to an employee or hire an independent party who is then found guilty of negligence.

In summary, anytime a hazardous condition contributes to causing injuries, the property owner or manager can be held responsible for the resulting damages. According to respondeat superior laws, the principal will be held liable for the negligence of one of their agents. 

Defendant(s) in a premises liability suit can include:

  • Stores
  • Employees
  • Restaurants
  • Retail centers
  • Homeowners
  • Business owners
  • Tenants or renters
  • The property management company

3. Types of Premises Liability Cases

There are many types of common premises liability cases . All property owners, whether they own a local grocery store or a large government building, are required by law to take reasonable action to protect their guests from being injured while on their property. Basic requirements include at the very least providing sufficient security, proper lighting, and appropriate maintenance.

Below are the most common premises liability cases.

3.1 Elevator and Escalator Accidents

    In the majority of all elevator and escalator cases, the property owner will almost always be held liable for an accident. However, there are instances when a property owner complied with the law and maintained their elevators and escalators in working order, yet an accident still occurred.

    In these cases, fault may fall on the manufacturer, the installer, or the maintenance company. A manufacturer can be held liable if part of an elevator fails. This is an example of a product defect. If your injuries were caused by a product defect, you can recover damages by making a claim against the elevator manufacturer.

    An elevator installer can also be held liable for injuries if they installed an elevator or escalator incorrectly. An accident can also be caused if the maintenance company failed to carry out proper maintenance. In these cases, you are entitled to file a claim against them.

3.2 Grocery Store Accidents

    The most common grocery store accident is a slip and fall. If a spill is not immediately mopped up, an accident is almost inevitable and liability will fall on the grocery store . Slip and falls tend to happen when there are no signs to warn shoppers about a potential slip and fall hazard.

    Older people are very vulnerable to being seriously injured after a slip and fall. Fractured hips are common among older shoppers and can cause permanent disability. According toThe National Institute on Aging every year 30% of people over the age of 65 will sustain a fall, of which 10% will result in a serious injury.

    Falling objects are another cause of many grocery store accidents. A shopper may reach for a can of vegetables on a high shelf and have other items fall on their head. In the worst case scenario, an entire shelf can fall on the person’s head, causing injuries or even death.

    Some grocery store accidents happen in the parking lot, too. A shopper can be injured by a shopping cart or another person. It’s not uncommon for a victim to be assaulted by another shopper in a parking lot or even deliberately struck by a car.

3.3 Swimming Pool Accidents

    All property owners have a legal duty to take reasonable measures to make sure that their swimming pool is safe for everyone. Premises liability applies to:

    • All property possessors and/or operators
    • All private/residential swimming pool owners
    • All government property owners of public or school swimming pools
    • All property owners with private/commercial pools that are made available to guests, members, or tenants

    Examples of a property owner’s failure to provide proper pool maintenance and supervision include:

    • Warning signs - A property owner may be held liable for a swimming pool drowning if he or she didn’t post appropriate warning signs. If there is no lifeguard, warning signs that indicate the depth of the water or “swim at your own risk” need to be clearly visible to everyone. Illegible or hidden signs are insufficient and can subject a property owner to liability.
    • Improper maintenance - Failure to maintain a pool or pool related safety equipment in good condition can subject a property owner to liability.
    • Negligence - If improperly installed pool equipment causes a drowning, that could count as an example of negligence on behalf of the installers. Another example is an employer who hires a lifeguard and the lifeguard’s negligent supervision causes a drowning.
    • Inadequate fencing - Pools without fencing are 60% more likely to involve a drowning than a fenced-in pool. If a reasonably careful property owner would have installed adequate fencing, the property owner who failed to do so could be found liable.

3.4 Product Liability

In a products liability case, the manufacturer of a defective swimming pool or a defective piece of pool related equipment will be liable for distributing the defective product. Any entity who is involved in the chain of production can share a degree of responsibility.

There are three types of defects:

  • Insufficient safety warnings or user instructions
  • Defects made during the manufacturing process
  • Defects made before a product was manufactured

3.5 Amusement Park Accidents

Amusement parks are required to take reasonable action to make sure their environment is safe for their customers. Anytime a visitor is hurt in an amusement park ,the owner may be held liable for any resulting damages. An amusement park owner must maintain their property, including:

  • Rides
  • Parking lots
  • Areas where food is served
  • Areas where people wait in line

Examples of premises liability incidents that may occur in amusement parks range from injuries caused by malfunctioning rides to physical altercations in parking lots.

3.6 Stair Accidents

Maintaining a property also includes repairing damaged stairs and broken steps as well as taking reasonable measures to make sure it is safe for people to use those stairs. If an individual falls down because of hazardous conditions on one of their stairways, that property owner can be held liable for any resulting damages.

3.7 Slip And Fall Accidents

If a spill is not immediately mopped up, an accident is almost inevitable. Slip and falls tend to happen when there are no signs to warn shoppers about a potential slip and fall hazard. Older people are very vulnerable to being seriously injured after a slip and fall. Fractured hips are common among older shoppers and can cause permanent disability. According to the National Floor Safety Association, for people aged 65-84 years, falls are the second leading cause of injury-related death; for those aged 85 years or older, falls are the leading cause of injury-related death.

Slip and falls are usually caused by:

  • Leaks or spills
  • Uneven flooring
  • Exposed cables or cords
  • Faulty railings
  • Loose carpets
  • Inadequate or missing warning signs

4. Available Damages In A Premises Liability Case

Slip and fall accidents, among other premises liability accidents can be very costly.

An injured plaintiff can recover damages for economic and non-economic losses caused by their premises liability claim. Recoverable economic damages include:

Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are intended to compensate a victim for losses which don’t necessarily have an easily determined dollar value. Non-economic damages for a premises liability case may include:

  • Scarring
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of limb(s)

There are rare cases where a plaintiff may also qualify for punitive damages. Punitive damages are only awarded at the court’s discretion. Punitive damages will require a plaintiff to prove one or more of the following:

  • A defendant deliberately caused an accident, injury, or death
  • A defendant deliberately destroyed evidence of his or her liability
  • A defendant's reckless actions caused severe injuries or a wrongful death

If a victim loses his or her life after a premises liability accident, the decedent’s surviving family members may be entitled to file a wrongful death claim for damages against the negligent property owner.

Available damages can include:

  • Burial costs
  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of support and companionship
  • Financial support the decedent would have contributed had they not died

5. Premises Liability Case Resources

  • What is Premises Liability?

    Premises liability refers to the fault of a premises owner’s negligence that can lead to an accident resulting in injury. This includes not tending to the property’s immediate needs (such as mopping up a spill on the floor) and long term needs (such as removing dangerous nails sticking out of walls).

  • Public Property, Animal Attacks and Premises Liability

    California regards ownership of domesticated animals differently than it does wild animals. In most cases, the owner of the animal is held responsible and must take reasonable precautions to keep the public safe from their animals.

  • AirBNB and Premises Liability

    Homeowners and renters alike can make extra cash off their properties, especially if they are a verified host. In most cases, rental rooms or houses are generally safe. However, accidents do happen and somebody has to be held accountable for this.

  • If Someone Trespasses on my Property am I Liable? 

    It is always the responsibility of the landlord or owner to inspect the property and purge it of all its potentially dangerous hazards. However, the law has evolved and you may now find yourself liable for the injuries of a trespasser.

  • Toxic Mold and Premises Liability Claims 

    There is a type of black mold that is toxic and which can make people very sick. If you are living in a home with black black mold, have raised the issue, and your landlord didn’t take any action, you may be entitled to file a premises liability claim.

  • Lead Paint Exposure and Premises Liability Claims 

    If the landlord or seller was aware or should have been aware of foreseeable circumstances based on lead exposure, but failed to act accordingly, then they may face a premises liability case for the losses they have caused.

  • Premises Liability and Theft

    As with most cases, it is the victim’s burden to prove negligence. They must show that the landlord knew about the current conditions and did nothing to change them. For example, if you were robbed because of a broken lock on your front door, you would have to prove that you had repeatedly brought it to the landlord’s attention.

  • Personal Injury on Private Property   

    If an individual is injured on another individual’s private property, then the owner will potentially be subject to a premises liability claim regardless of whether the property was being utilized for commercial or residential motives.

  • What Do You Do after an Accident on Someone Else’s Property 

    It is important to understand that a landlord or property owner cannot be held responsible for a hazardous condition he or she was not even aware of. A property owner must have a reasonable amount of time to discover any hazardous conditions on their property.

  • Does The Weather Affect Premises Liability?

    Injuries caused by poor weather conditions are not always blameless. All property owners have a responsibility to maintain safe conditions on their property. This means that there is an expectation for them to keep their property in safe conditions, regardless of the weather.

  • Liability of Homeowners for Dog Bites on Their Premises

    Being that California is a strict liabilitystate, the owner of the dog would be found liable even if they did not know the dog was going to behave aggressively. The owner is still held liable even if it was the first time the dog has bitten someone or ever shown aggression.

  • AB5 and AirBNB

    Due to California Assembly Bill 5, the worldwide hosting megacorporation changed its policy regarding protections to and for the hosts. AirBnB hosts are no longer considered independent contractors, but rather they are employees to the company now, which means they have employee rights such as health insurance, overtime pay, and workers compensation insurance.

  • Premises Liability and Outdoor Staircases: When Is a Property Owner Liable?

    A property owner is typically held liable for any stair accident that occurs on their property. However, stairs are unique and require unique considerations to determine liability. Stairs have both obvious and not so obvious dangers.

  • Environmental Influences and Premises Liability in CA

    The property owner must inspect the property to ensure that there are no potential hazards that can cause an accident. If the property owner does not take these precautions, they can be seen as negligent and will be held liable for damages or injuries that affect the victim.

  • Premises Liability and Rental Property 

    If someone gets hurt on a rental property, the party at fault could be that of the owner of the property, not the renter. This is all dependent on a number of different factors, including who the guest was and how what type of property negligence caused the accident.

  • Human Attacks and Premises Liability 

    A property or business owner may not be able to predict the future, but it is still their responsibility to provide reasonable security measures to protect lawful guests from foreseeable crimes.

  • Slip and Fall Accidents

    Slip and fall accidents are commonplace accidents in premises liability cases. They can occur when there is a liquid, slippery substance, or object that causes a slip on the floor. These kinds of accidents are common in places such as grocery stores and food places. They are most detrimental to elderly people who could be badly hurt from the fall.

  • Elevator and Escalator Accidents

    Elevator and escalator accidents sound like rare occasions, however, they do happen on occasion and can be dangerous, considering the height of which a person can fall from in the case of an accident.

  • Swimming Pool Accidents 

    Swimming pool accidents usually result from a lack of proper adult supervision and can have dire consequences such as slip and fall accidents and drowning. Swimming pool owners, like all property owners, can be held liable for these accidents.

  • Grocery Store Accidents 

    Grocery stores are a common place for all kinds of accidents, particularly slip and falls. Owners of grocery stores or grocery store chains are responsible for these types of accidents. There are several important steps to take to ensure that you recover well after and get maximum compensation for your injuries.

  • Common Premises Cases 

    If you get injured on a property, it could be cause for a premises liability case. There are many different kinds of these cases which include though are not limited to: slip and falls, dog bites, and fires.

  • Child Trespassers - Am I Liable If a Kid Gets Hurt on My Property?

    Visitors to a property are required a duty of care by their host and property owner. Trespassers are illegally entering a property, for which they are not entitled to a duty of care by a host or property owner. However, the rules are different if the trespasser happens to be a child.

  • What Happens If You Get Hurt While Working on Someone’s Property?

    There’s always a possibility of getting hurt while working, but when you are working on someone else’s property, that property owner owes you a duty of care.

  • Who Owes the Premises Liability Duty When Tenants are Renting?

    Property owners are responsible for keeping their properties safe for their renters and their renter’s guests. Depending on the circumstances of the accident and resulting injury, a property owner can be held liable for the injuries experienced in an accident on their property that is being rented by someone else.

  • Premises Liability Law: Determining Who’s at Fault 

    Determining who is at fault in a premises liability case is dependent on several different factors, including what kind of property it is and whether or not the person hurt on the property was a guest, a trespasser, or a child.

  • Types of Premises Liability Lawsuits

    There exist different types of premises liability lawsuits, depending on the type of property where the accident occurred. The different types of premises liability lawsuits include, though are not limited to accidents caused by faulty security, slip and falls, and faulty set-ups.

  • Punitive Damages in Premises Liability 

    Punitive damages are those that are awarded as additional monetary compensation when the plaintiffs actions were done with malice. Punitive damages might be awarded in a premise liability case only if the accident occurred by negligence behind malice motive on behalf of the property owner who owes a duty of care to its visitors.

  • Premises Liability: What Evidence Do You Need to Prove to Win Your Case

    In a premises liability case, like any other case, there is certain evidence that is essential to proving your case. This evidence includes, though is not limited to: photographs, footage, witnesses, and accident reports.

  • Premises Liability Insurance 

    If you own a property or conduct business on a property, you should know about premises liability insurance that is essential to have in the case that someone gets injured on the property.

  • Quiz: Do You Have a Premise Liability Claim?

    Were you injured on someone else’s premises and you believe the property owner is at fault? You could have a premises liability claim depending on where you got hurt, the type of injury you sustained, the cause of the injury, and more.

  • Pool Accidents 

    Pool accident injuries can be a premises liability case depending on the circumstances of the accident. Pool owners, like all property owners, could be found liable for the injuries sustained on their property if they did not take the proper precautions to prevent the injury from happening.

  • Theme Park Accidents 

    People go to theme parks because they are supposed to be a fun and safe way to enjoy the day and get a thrill. However, if something goes wrong at a theme park, the consequences can be dire. Luckily, theme parks are prepared with insurance coverage in the case of accidents.

  • How to Maximize Compensation for Premises Liability 

    Depending on the severity of the injury and type of property where the injury was sustained in an accident, the amount of compensation someone can recieve varies. In order to maximize the compensation you can receive from a premises liability claim, there are several important steps to take to build a strong case.

  • Supermarket Liability 

    If you get injured in an accident on the premises of a supermarket, you might have a premises liability case on your hands. Supermarkets are responsible for providing their visitors with a duty of care that ensures their safety. The most common accidents in supermarkets are slip and falls.

  • School Rules for Premises Liability 

    If someone is injured in an accident on school property, the school could have a premises liability case on their hands. Schools must follow certain protocols and ensure a proper duty of care to all of their visitors. 

  • Premises Liability at the Gym 

    You go to the gym to work out, not to get hurt. If you are injured in an accident on the premises of a gym, you could have a premises liability case on your hand. Gyms are required to offer a duty of care and ensure the safety of all of their visitors.

  • Types of Visitors According to Premises Liability 

    One factor in determining the outcome of premises liability case is the type of visitor who was injured on the property. Was the person an authorized visitor invited, were they a trespasser, or were they a child? The type of visitor who is injured on a property can affect the liability claim.

  • Poor Lighting Liability 

    Poor lighting on the premises can cause dangerous situations to occur. If you were injured in an accident on the premises due to poor lighting, you could have a premises liability case on your hands. Poor lighting is a form of negligence that is considered poor security.

  • Premises Liability and Sexual Assault

    If someone is a victim of sexual assault on a premises due to the lack of safety provided by the premises owner, they could have a premises liability case on their hands. Sexual assault can be caused by the negligence of a property owner who did not provide a duty of care to a visitor by lacking property security to keep them safe.

  • Premises Liability and Death 

    If someone dies on a premises due to negligence of premises safety, this could be a premises liability case in which the owner of the property could be found liable.

  • Los Angeles Duty of Care - Determining Who’s At Fault in Premises Liability Cases

    Duty of care refers to the responsibility to ensure a safe visit to a premise. It is a property owner’s responsibility to upkeep property. In Los Angeles, this duty of care is extended to visitors to the property and any children, including trespassing children.

  • Everything Business Owners Need to Know About Premises Liability

    Running a business is a high maintenance job - it’s important to take care of matters on the front end and on the back end. This includes having business general liability insurance to cover accidents and injuries that occur on the business premises.

  • Public Property Personal Injuries and Premises Liability

    If any injury happens on public property, it occurred on government owned property. Filing a claim or a lawsuit against a government entity for a personal injury is handled a little differently from others claims involving accidents on other premises.

West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help

If you have sustained injuries as a result of a premises liability accident, you have the right to hold the guilty party responsible. A premises liability attorney at our firm can help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering from your injury.

Call us today at (213) 927-3700 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring and compassionate legal team.


CACI No.1001. Basic Duty of Care.Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) (2017 edition). Justia.

Civil Code 1714. Division 3. Obligations [1427 - 3273]. Part 3 Obligations Imposed by the Law. California Legislative Information.

Legal Information Institute. Respondeat Superior. Cornell Law School.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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