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Who is Responsible for Accident Injuries on a Rental Property? Rental Premises Liability, Explained by the Top Premise Liability Attorneys

Renting a newly restored downtown LA loft is a genuinely exciting thing. But what happens if something goes wrong in an older building? What if an elevator breaks down and causes serious injuries? For the most part, any injuries or wrongful deaths that occur in rental property may subject a property owner to liability.

However, a renter will not always have the right to file a premises liability claim. Below, our experienced premises liability attorneys will discuss premises liability as it relates to rental property. If you have suffered injuries 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.

Premises Liability Law

All property owners are required by law to maintain their rental properties in reasonably safe conditions. Exactly how much a landlord is required to do will depend on the visitor. Visitors to a property are invitees, licensees, or trespassers. Invitees of course are entitled to the greatest duty of care as they have been invited onto a property as renters. 

A licensee is still owed a duty of care, but not as much as an invitee is. A licensee enters a property for their own reasons, such as a utility worker, but nevertheless has permission to be there. A trespasser has no reason or right to be on a property and is owed no duty of care whatsoever, unless he or she is a child. 

A tenant is generally thought of as an invitee. A landlord owes their renters the highest duty of care. This means regularly checking their property for obvious and not so obvious dangers, repairing damage as it occurs, and if necessary, posting adequate signage to warn residents about any potential hazards. Furthermore, a landlord must address slip and fall risks, damaged structures, security, and more. 

In essence, a property owner who fails to fulfill their duty of care to a renter -- and this negligence causes harm or death -- may be held liable for any losses sustained.

Property Owners And Liability For Premises Liability Accidents

It is crucial that you revise your rental agreement for any clauses that attempt to shield the landlord from liability after a premises liability accident. However, the inclusion of such language is not enough to protect a landlord from liability, especially when he or she was negligent regarding their legally mandated duty of care. Regardless of such exclusionary clauses, an injured renter is still entitled to file premises liability claim in the event of an injury. 

You will, however, need to prove that the landlord was guilty of negligence in order to recover damages for your losses. For starters, this means proving that you were an invitee and proving that your landlord did not fulfill his or her legal duty of care to you.

Premises Liability Cases Explained

Slip and Falls: The most common and most straightforward type of premises liability claims are slip and falls. Slip and falls are caused by:

Insufficient Building Security: Usually occur in apartment buildings and offices. Property owners of apartments and offices are required to have a reasonable amount of security in their buildings, such as door men, security guards, gates, locked doors, and surveillance. If a trespasser breaks into an apartment building and hurts or kills someone, a victim may have a premises liability case against a property owner. However, they must prove the property owner didn’t use enough reasonable care to adequately secure the building.

Swimming Pool Accidents: Generally will involve children and unsupervised or poorly maintained pools. Swimming pools must be fenced and have locking gates. If a property owner leaves a pool open or unguarded, they may be held liable for any injuries that take place in or around their pool.

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
  • Other Non-Economic Damanges

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 are only incorporated in 5% 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.


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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