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Bakersfield has attractions to please all kinds, from restaurants and retail stores to music venues, some featuring the famous local Bakersfield Sound. Some of these places are newer, but Bakersfield has its share of older apartments and businesses, some in areas with higher crime rates. While they vary greatly, there’s one thing that ties all of these venues and buildings together—the potential for premises liability.
Premises liability is an area of personal injury law that involves liability for owners or possessors of residential, commercial, or public property to ensure that their properties are safe for those who are legally on the property.
Read on for more information about the types of premises liability and answers to some of the questions we hear most often about obtaining compensation after premises liability accidents.
For answers to questions about your specific case, trust an experienced Bakersfield premises liability lawyer from The May Firm to help you understand the process of pursuing compensation for your premises liability accident injuries.
Those in Bakersfield who own, possess, lease, or otherwise control a property must exercise a duty of care to protect their guests from injury.
This duty requires:
In a city as old as Bakersfield, many buildings contain safety hazards, such as unsafe wiring or staircases. Those responsible for the safety of such buildings most often know or should know of the hazards, but simply fail to address them. Here is a list of some premises liability accidents that are likely to arise in Bakersfield.
Each year in the U.S., more than one million people visit emergency rooms for slip and fall injuries, and slip and fall accidents are the most common type of premises liability claim. Slip and fall accidents are of particular concern for the elderly, whose age and often more vulnerable physical states can involve impaired vision, struggles keeping balanced, or other physical weaknesses that can make slipping and falling more likely.
Slip and fall accidents may result from property conditions including:
While some stigmatize slip and fall accidents as minor or even frivolous, they can produce life-altering or even life-threatening injuries, such as broken hips, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries.
Whether you’re swimming in a public pool or enjoying a pool party at a friend’s house, the owner or possessor of the pool must implement safety measures that ensure proper pool maintenance, adequate supervision of minors, and warning all guests of potential safety hazards such as at shallow ends of the pool where it isn’t safe to dive. Many accidents can occur in a swimming pool, not the least of which is drowning.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), besides birth defects, drowning causes more deaths of children ages one to four than any other cause. However, children aren’t the only ones at risk of drowning in a swimming pool. An average of 11 people die from drowning each day in the U.S., and around 22 people each day experience a non-fatal drowning incident.
Other types of swimming pool accidents that can result in serious injuries or even death include:
Property owners or possessors who have elevators or escalators in their building must properly maintain and service these apparatuses. Malfunctioning elevators can result in doors that close on an individual’s body, become disjointed and create sudden falls, jerk suddenly and cause riders to lose their balance, or become stuck between floors. Malfunctioning escalators can entrap a person’s clothing or fingers, or can even catch fire or explode.
The Bakersfield Fire Department has 240 reserve personnel, with 14 fire departments throughout the city. It has an Insurance Services Office rating of Class 2, and is among the top 1.5 percent of fire departments nationwide. California is below the national average for both deaths and injuries from residential structure fires. Even so, Bakersfield fire departments can’t always respond to a fire in time to prevent injuries.
Property owners or possessors can reduce their liability risk by ensuring:
As sea levels rise and changing weather patterns persist, Bakersfield residents and customers face an increased risk of flooding. More than 21,000 properties in Bakersfield are already at risk of flooding, and that number may increase in the coming years.
While at first, it might not seem like flooding is likely to injure people:
Property owners with buildings in the floodplain may need to pay for additional insurance to cover floods, and all property owners must promptly address any issues that could flood the building.
As noted, older buildings and residences in Bakersfield were not properly maintained throughout the years. Failure to perform needed maintenance and repairs can lead to structural issues, such as porches or stairs that are unstable or that decay, creating the possibility of collapse. A stair or porch collapse can lead to serious injuries such as broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, or damage to the spinal cord, vertebrae, or discs.
Dogs bite more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. each year, hospitalizing more than 800,000. Dog bites may even result in death, with 48 people being killed in the U.S. each year from a dog bite. California often has the highest number of dog bite-related fatalities and it is also the state with the most dog bite legal claims.
In California, a dog owner is strictly liable for their dog biting someone. In other words, the dog’s owner must pay for injuries incurred by the dog, regardless of whether they knew that the dog was dangerous or had the propensity to bite. Like other residential premises liabilities, a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy generally compensates dog bite injuries.
Premises liability law gives some property owners a duty to take reasonable steps to ensure that their guests are kept safe from criminal violence. This includes schools, where staff members know or have reason to know that bullying is taking place but fail to stop bullying and injure a student.
Property owners can prevent criminal violence on their properties and reduce their risk of liability:
Like other types of personal injury claims, premises liability claims often begin when your attorney submits a demand package to the at-fault party’s insurance provider. This package details the facts of the case and lays out the expenses and impacts you have incurred because of your injury, and for which you demand compensation.
Upon receiving the demand package from your attorney, the insurance company has three options:
An insurance company’s initial settlement offer is often far too low to be considered fair compensation. However, initial offers provide a starting point in many cases for settlement negotiations to begin.
Because you generally only have two years from the date of a Bakersfield premises liability accident to file a lawsuit in court, you might approach that deadline without having settled with the at-fault party’s insurer. If the insurer fails to offer a fair settlement, you must file a lawsuit to preserve your claim. Settlement negotiations, however, can continue even after you file a lawsuit. Often these negotiations become even more serious once you file the suit. Litigation is expensive and the insurance company wants to avoid the expense of continued litigation and the possibility of paying a court award for more damages than they could have settled for.
Once you file a lawsuit, the litigation process unfolds. One important stage of litigation is discovery. This is when your attorney can demand access to evidence in possession of the defense, require the defense to answer written questions regarding the case, and can also depose witnesses and the defendant. Settlement negotiations are often ongoing at this point. If the parties fail to reach an agreement, the case will go to trial and the court will decide whether the defendant is liable and how much they owe you in compensation.
Whether you were injured in a slip and fall accident at a Bakersfield restaurant, you became a victim of crime due to an apartment landlord’s failure to provide adequate building security, or you suffered an injury while swimming at McMurtrey Aquatic Center, you may pursue compensation. There are many steps to take in bringing a premises liability claim, and each case requires a unique approach. Still, there are many commonalities between any of the given premises liability case scenarios. Below are answers to some frequently asked about premises liability cases.
If you were injured by a hazardous feature on a residential, commercial, or public property that the property owner or possessor knew or had reason to know about but failed to repair or warn guests about, you can seek compensation for your injuries 1) by filing a claim with the at-fault party’s insurer, and/or 2) by bringing a premises liability lawsuit.
However, there are exceptions. For instance, in cases involving children premises liability victims whose parents do not choose to file a claim on their behalf, this statutory deadline can be extended (tolled) until after the child reaches the age of majority can file their own claim.
Sometimes you have a shorter time to bring a claim is, such as in cases involving claims against a governmental agency or government employee in their official capacity. In that case, you must first file a notice of intent to sue. Figuring out the correct deadline in a Bakersfield premises liability claim can be tricky, which is why it is best to contact an attorney as soon after your accident as possible to find out when your deadline is, given the specific facts of your case.
To prove liability in a Bakersfield premises liability claim, you must show:
Bakersfield premises liability claimants may claim compensation for the expenses and impacts to their quality of life that they have incurred because of their accident injuries.
Some expenses and impacts that you might demand in your Bakersfield premises liability claims include:
Generally, worker’s compensation insurance will compensate you for Bakersfield workplace injuries rather than through a premises liability claim. California law requires most employers to purchase a no-fault insurance policy to cover injuries their employees may sustain on the job. Workers’ compensation policies cover medical expenses and temporary or permanent wage replacement. They also provide a death benefit for the family members of individuals who die in a workplace accident.
If a worker’s compensation policy covers your accident injuries, you typically can’t file a premises liability lawsuit. One exception to this rule pertains to accidents caused by a third party. An example of a premises liability accident in the workplace and that involves a third party might be a slip and fall injury on wet floors that a cleaning services company recently mopped for your employer.
The dog owner’s homeowners or renter’s insurance policy generally covers liability, even if the bite occurs on a public street. In one year, homeowner’s and renter’s policies in the U.S. shelled out around $854 million in dog bite claims, making dog bites one of the most common types of claims against homeowners and renter’s insurance policies.
However, according to the Insurance Information Institute, many insurance companies refuse to cover certain dog breeds. Breeds that insurance policies often restrict include pit bulls, Staffordshire terriers, Dobermans, German shepherds, Akitas, chows, Alaskan malamutes, Rottweilers, Siberian huskies, and wolf hybrids. Others do not track the dog by breed, but will likely increase the homeowner’s or renter’s premium if the dog bites someone and they must pay a claim.
In California, dog bites create strict liability for an owner. This makes the dog’s owner liable for the bite even if they did not know the dog had escaped the yard or that it had the propensity to bite someone.
The vast majority of premises liability claims resolve before they ever see the inside of a courtroom. Cases most often settle between the parties. Settlement is normally in both side’s best interests, as it allows everyone to avoid the time and expense of litigation.
However, just because most cases don’t see the inside of a courtroom doesn’t mean yours won’t. Hire an experienced attorney who is as comfortable and confident with obtaining compensation on your behalf, whether through litigation or negotiating a settlement agreement.
Several different premises liability cases occur in Bakersfield, and each case has unique facts, including the degree of a defendant’s negligence and the severity of a victim’s injuries. These will largely determine a case’s value, and there is no average.
Several factors can affect the value of any premises liability case, including:
The loss of a child is an agonizing event. California law allows the family members of individuals who die from someone else’s negligence to seek compensation through a wrongful death claim. Like a premises liability claim involving personal injury, a wrongful death claim based on premises liability seeks to prove that the property owner/possessor’s negligence caused the accident and the injurious outcome.
Family members of a deceased child can obtain compensation for:
Generally, no. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the proceeds obtained as compensation for a personal injury are not considered income, should not be claimed as income, and are not subject to tax.
There are some exceptions, however:
If you needed brain surgery, you would probably hire a brain surgeon. You would hire a surgeon because you want the most experienced and knowledgeable professional possible for the job. Hiring an attorney to assist you with your premises liability claim is analogous to hiring a medical expert for medical treatment—you want a professional to handle matters that put your life and livelihood on the line.
Personal injury attorneys spend many years obtaining the education and training necessary to handle legal claims. A Bakersfield premises liability attorney from The May Firm understands the claims process and how to obtain all the compensation their client needs, not only to cover the expenses and impacts that they have already experienced from the injury, but also those they will likely face. With their knowledge and experience, an attorney with The May Firm can provide services that you can’t easily provide yourself.
Further, because having an experienced attorney on your side is so important to your ability to have a successful outcome to your premises liability case, The May Firm is pleased to provide:
Let our experienced attorneys help you understand your legal options for obtaining compensation in your Bakersfield premises liability case. For a free case evaluation, contact us online or by calling (844) 629-3476.
Clients were rear ended by a utility vehicle.
Judgment for wrongful death of pedestrian struck by motor vehicle.
Wrongful death of pedestrian struck while walking his dog.
Clients were rear ended by a utility vehicle.
Car accident causing a traumatic brain injury resulting in a policy limits settlement prior to filing suit.
Policy limits settlement for clients’ who suffered spinal injuries. No surgeries required. The case settled before suit was filed.
Client was rear-ended resulting in low back injury.
Client rear-ended and suffered neck and low back injuries.
Bike vs. motor vehicle collision resulting in low back injuries. Disputed liability.
Speeding vehicle struck client’s parked car.
For client whose truck struck a tire that had fallen from a defective tire assembly.
Motor vehicle vs. bicycle resulting in death of cyclist. At fault driver was underinsured.
The staff was friendly and very helpful throughout my entire case. Sienna stood out with her great customer service and help. I would recommend The May Firm to anyone looking for a personal injury attorney.
A friendly and professional firm. Always answered questions quickly. Highly recommended to anyone who needs a personal injury lawyer. Extremely satisfied with the outcome.
Robert, Cameron and his staff are great. From day one the expectations were explained and updates were always provided. Robert put me at ease by reassuring me the case would be handled appropriately from beginning to end. I give him and his staff credit for the quick resolve to my case.