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Premises Liability and Wrongful Death

How Property Owners Could Be Liable for a Wrongful Death

All property owners 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 killed because of their negligence. However, a person who has lost his or her life will not be able to file a claim on their own behalf. Therefore, surviving family members may be entitled to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the aggrieved individual to recover damages. Below, we will discuss premises liability as it relates to wrongful death claims. If you or a loved one suffered injuries as a result of a premises liability accident, our knowledgeable 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. To contact our 24/7 legal team, you may call us at 213-927-3700 or fill out our quick contact form.

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.” Determining who’s at-fault in a premises liability case is complex. Premises liability lawsuits require the victim, or surviving family, to prove that he or she was harmed or killed 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.

Causes of Death Leading to Premises Liability Claims

  • Building collapse
  • Daycare injuries
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Animal attacks
  • Theme park accidents
  • Water spills, flooding, or leaks
  • Negligent or inadequate security
  • Physical assault
  • Fire
  • Harmful toxins and chemicals
  • Failure to properly maintain the premises
  • Explosions
  • Slip and falls
  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Dangerous sidewalks
  • Violation of housing codes or building codes

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim 

As mentioned, an individual who lost his or her life due to a property owner’s negligence cannot file a claim for damages. Therefore, surviving family members are entitled to file a wrongful death claim on their behalf. A surviving spouse, or registered domestic partner, has first priority when it comes to filing a wrongful death claim for damages. The children of the deceased may file, as well. In order to bring a wrongful death claim, you must prove that the landlord, or whomever was in charge, was guilty and that their negligence was the primary reason why an aggrieved individual lost his or her life. The statute of limitations in a wrongful death claim is two years from when the death occurred. In order to successfully prove premises liability against a property owner, surviving family members must show that:
  • The property owner had a duty of care toward the deceased individual(s).
  • The property owner breached their duty of care by failing to take action that another reasonable property owner would have given under the same circumstances.
  • The property owner’s negligence directly caused the death.
  • Surviving family members suffered losses as a result of the wrongful death.
Available damages in a wrongful death claim may include:
  • Lost benefits
  • Loss of companionship, guidance, and support
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of consortium
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical expenses

Contact Us to Find Out How We Can Help

If you have sustained injuries as a result of a premises liability accident, our expert premises liability attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers can help you recover compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact us today by calling 213-927-3700 or filling out our contact form to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.

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