All property owners, including owners of private and government property in California, have a legal duty to keep their premises safe. Because if there’s one thing all homeowners, landlords, and commercial property owners want to avoid is a premises liability lawsuit resulting from an accident.
Being hit with a complaint by a plaintiff who alleges that you were negligent in maintaining your property, and thus caused their injury or even the death of a loved one, is a serious matter. Whether a person slips 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, the resulting injuries can be severe and life changing. By law, 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.
Some examples of premises liability cases can include:
- Slip and falls
- Inadequate premises maintenance
- Defective conditions
- Elevator and escalator accidents
- Toxic fumes or chemicals
- Water leaks or flooding
- Inadequate security leading to assault and injury
There are some steps a property owner can take to help to prevent injuries and premises liability lawsuits. Our team of experienced premises liability lawyers at West Coast Trial Lawyers share key insight into the matter.
- Have Proper Insurance
While having the proper insurance for your property won’t prevent an accident or resulting injuries, it can help ensure you don’t take a big financial hit in case you get sued in a premises liability personal injury case.
Acquiring an umbrella insurance policy that supplements the property owner’s normal liability insurance would be key, given it provides a much higher coverage limit. Traditional homeowners policies may cover the house’s rebuild cost if it were to burn down in a fire. However, if someone were to trip and suffer a spinal injury or head trauma on your property, the homeowner’s policy would only provide minimal coverage. That’s why an umbrella policy is a good idea, since it can provide a large amount of additional liability protection for a relatively low cost and can be purchased as an add-on.
If you don’t have the proper add-on, when an accident occurs and the damages exceed your coverage limit, the property owner will be expected to pay the excess verdict or settlement amount out of your own pocket. And since roughly 15% of personal injury cases result in damages in excess of $1 million, it can be financially ruinous for many people.
- Inspect And Clean
In some cases, injuries on a property are preventable if you maintain the premises routinely. Consider setting up periodic cleanings so that either your employees or professionals can look for any potential issues. This can range from spilled drinks on the floor or exposed wires, for example. Also, keep detailed records of the scheduled cleanings in case you’re caught up in a lawsuit, you can show you took proper steps required by law to clear your property of any hazards. Legally, this shows you upheld your duty of care to prevent accidents and injuries.
- Correct Hazards
If after inspecting your property a potential hazard is discovered, it must be corrected immediately. It’s important to, as a business, establish clear policies and procedures so that employees know what to do when it comes to dangerous conditions. Whether it’s flattening the entryway mat or clearing ice and snow off a walkway, no one should assume someone else will take care of fixing this.
- Clearly Display Caution Signs
In cases where any hazard can’t be immediately remedied, there should be a clear display of a warning sign so that customers and employees can avoid the unsafe condition until it’s fixed. A good example of this are the “wet floor” signs in areas that have been mopped during business.