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Premises Liability Lawyer in Los Angeles


Los Angeles Premises Liability Attorney

All property owners, including owners of private and government property, 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 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

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…”

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:

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

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.

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

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

2)Who Do I Sue In A Premises Liability Case?

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

Property owners or managers cannot shield themselves from liability 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 contribute 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:

  • Homeowners
  • Business owners
  • Tenants or renters
  • The property management company
  • Restaurants
  • Retail centers
  • Stores
  • Any employees of the above

3)Types Of 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. 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.

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 pool is safe for everyone. Premises liability applies to:

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

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

  1. 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.
  2. Improper Maintenance. Failure to maintain a pool or pool related safety equipment in good condition can subject a property owner to liability.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Products 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:

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

3.4 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:

  1. All rides
  2. Areas where people wait in line
  3. Areas where food is served
  4. Parking lots

3.5 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.

3.6 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.

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

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

  • Future Medical Treatment
  • Lost Earning Capacity
  • Emotional Distress
  • Lost Wages
  • Medical Bills
  • Loss Of Consortium

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

  • Disfigurement
  • Scarring
  • Loss of limb

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:

  1. A defendant’s reckless actions caused severe injuries or a wrongful death
  2. A defendant deliberately destroyed evidence of his or her liability
  3. A defendant deliberately caused an accident, injury, or 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 claim for damages against the negligent property owner. Available damages can include:

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

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 info@westcoasttriallawyers.com to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring and compassionate legal team.

References

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=1714.&lawCode=CIV

https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/docs/caci/1000/1001/

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/respondeat_superior



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