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Determining Liability for Injuries on a Premises

Premises Liability 101: Personal Injuries and Properties

In order to successfully pursue a claim for premises liability, an injured person needs to show that a property owner was negligent regarding property ownership or maintenance. However, just because you were hurt on someone else’s property does not automatically mean that a property owner was negligent. Also, a property that presents a hazardous condition does not automatically imply that a property owner was negligent, either.

Below, our experienced team of premises liability attorneys will discuss the elements of a premises liability claim, along with how liability is determined. If you have suffered injuries as a result of a property owner’s negligence in California, our attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers are here to answer any questions you may have about claims and available damages.

Premises Liability 101

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 hurt specifically because of a property owner/manager’s negligence. Specifically, an injured person must show that the:

  1. Defendant leased, owned, occupied, or was in control of the property where the incident took place
  2. Defendant acted negligently regarding the use or maintenance of that property
  3. Plaintiff suffered injuries
  4. Defendant’s negligence was the primary reason for a plaintiff’s injuries

All property owners have a duty of care to maintain their premises in reasonably safe conditions. A duty of care for a property owner means he or she must take the same action that another reasonable property owner should take or should have taken under similar circumstances.

When determining whether or not a property owner or manager breached his or her duty of care, the following elements 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?

Who Is At-Fault in a Premises Liability Case?

Premises Liability Law Determining Who’s At-Fault

Someone who was hurt on another person’s property is entitled to file a premises liability claim against the person or company that owns, leases, occupies, or controls the property where the accident took place.

Property owners or managers do not make themselves immune to liability by delegating the task of property maintenance. A property owner or manager is responsible for the safety of their premises, even if they hire someone else who is later found guilty of negligence.

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 always be held liable for the negligence of one of their agents.

The 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

Available Damages

Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.

Economic Damages
Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out-of-pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries.

A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out-of-pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Punitive Damages
The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact were only incorporated in 5 percent of all verdicts.

Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.

Contact Us to Find Out How We Can Help

If you have sustained injuries in the city of Los Angeles as a result of a premises liability accident, an 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. West Coast Trial Lawyers today at (213) 927-3700 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.


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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