Premises Liability and Theft
Are Property Owners Liable for the Theft of Your Belongings on Their Premises?
In California, theft is a recurring issue that thousands of residents face nearly every week. Of all reported property crimes that have taken place in 2019, 68 percent were larceny theft, 17 percent were burglaries, and 15 percent were auto thefts. Individuals often experience losing irreplaceable belongings and wonder who is liable for their losses. Although this type of situation can be a complicated case to solve, it is still very much possible to catch the culprit(s).
If you have suffered losses as a result of a premises liability accident in California, the experienced premises liability attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers are always here to answer any questions you may have about premises liability claims and available damages.
Can I Sue My Landlord for Theft in California?
Technically, you can sue almost anyone for almost anything. The burden relies on the plaintiff to prove to the court that the defendant’s negligence caused them personal damage or harm. These damages don’t always have to be physical, as many courts will compensate you for other losses, as well.
If you’ve had property stolen from your home or on your landlord’s property then they may be held liable if they didn’t take basic safety measures. These measures are different depending on the state and city, but most landlords are required to provide:
- Pristine structure, which includes floor, stairs, walls, and rooftops
- Proper locks on doors and mailboxes
- Clean and safe common areas, such as a lobby or hallway
- Secured windows and fences
- Reasonable measures against the threat of foreseeable criminal intrusions
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. In the same fashion, your landlord is responsible if a contract worker steals or damages your property.
What Are Hotels Liable for?
For the most part, hotels are completely liable for the safety of their guests and their guest’s property. Similar to rental law, hotels have a duty of care to their guests and it is the responsibility of the victim to prove that hotel management was negligent.
Under premises liability law, a hotel guest is an “invitee” which means they were legally invited on the premises and under those grounds they are owed a greater level of protection. The hotel must conduct routine inspections and readily repair dangerous conditions.
Some of the hotel’s obligations are to:
- Install locks on each hotel room.
- Have enough security, including guards and cameras.
- Train staff.
- Maintain the elevators and stairs to ensure they are safe for guests to use.
- Prevent insect infestations.
If you can prove that the hotel directly contributed towards your injury or losses then you may have a premises liability case. The hotel is not liable for injuries that occur beyond their foreseeable scope of view, such as an injury caused by another guest or if the victims own negligent actions added to the injury.
Vicarious liability is the legal term used when a company is held liable for its employee’s behavior if it falls under the course of their employment. This includes but is not limited to bullying, harassment, violent, illegal, or sexual acts. Under this legal theory, the hotel is liable for its employee’s actions even if they are unaware of them. Although California hotels have limited liability when it comes to theft in most cases, the law is cut and dry.
Airbnb’s and Theft
Generally speaking, both a host and a guest have the right to sue if their property has been stolen or damaged. Again, the burden of proof would be on the accuser. Though it is always recommended to call the police first and get a police report, Airbnb usually handles these situations internally.
By filing a claim at the Airbnb Resolution Center, you can be refunded for the stolen items through the company’s insurance policy. Payments are usually taken from the guest’s security deposit.
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 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 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
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. Call 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.