A premises liability accident that hurt you on someone else’s property, can completely upend your life. You might be qualified to make a premises liability claim if the property owner of the location where you were hurt was to blame for the mishap.
You can receive the money you need to heal from your injuries by being aware of property owners’ and managers’ responsibility to guests. However, not all victims are necessarily entitled to the same amount of compensation. Your eligibility for compensation is contingent upon whether you are an invitee, licensee, or trespasser.
What Is Premises Liability?
A concise explanation of premises liability is “The responsibility that the owner (or occupier) of land carries for a harm that someone incurs as a result of an unsafe condition on their property.”
Premises liability laws vary slightly from state to state. Injuries caused by premises liability also frequently result in premises liability suits.
The law limits the responsibility of the property owner. You can only hold them accountable for avoidable incidents. Premises liability is also subject to practical restrictions, such as the quantity of insurance that a company or individual possesses.
Fortunately, most companies carry significant liability insurance, and homeowner’s insurance protects the majority of residences in all except the most exceptional cases.
Typical Types of Premises Liability Cases
Typical premises liability lawsuit categories include:
- Accidents involving falls
- Crimes that occur because of inadequate security
- Elevator and escalator injuries
- Preventable toxic spills
- Loose floor tiles, carpets, or extension cords
- Dog bites by unrestrained dogs
Every premises liability incident is different, but there are inevitable accidents that the legal team at the May Firm sees more commonly and has plenty of experience litigating.
California Premises Liability Law
The foundation of premises liability law in California is the demonstration of carelessness on the part of the property owner or occupant.
Everyone is liable for this requirement according to the California Civil Code, which addresses the duties of property owners to provide ordinary care. This statute covers injuries brought on by a failure to exercise ordinary care that resulted in injury.
You must meet the following essential conditions must to file a premises liability claim against a property owner:
The Four Elements in a Premises Liability
You may break down most premises liability cases into a few distinct aspects that you must be able to establish to win a premises liability case. To succeed in your lawsuit, you must demonstrate the following four elements of premises liability:
1. The Defendant Owned the Property
At the time of the injury, the defendant must have been the owner or occupant of the property. (Owner here refers to both owners and occupiers, such as lessees, for the sake of simplicity.)
You might still hold a company owner responsible for your premises liability accident even if they only lease the property from another party, as a store in a mall does.
2. The Defendant Negligently Maintained the Property
The defendant’s care and property maintenance were negligent. They might have violated a safety law, but you can prove negligence even if they broke no law.
A typical example is an injury from snow or ice that covers the steps leading up to a business. If the business owner fails to remove the snow or put down salt to melt the ice, some courts could find the business owner liable for their negligent property maintenance.
3. An Injury Occurred
The victim must have experienced an actual injury. If so, they may also seek compensation for tangible losses like medical bills, wage loss, mental hardship, or pain and suffering.
4. The Defendant’s Negligence Caused the Injury
For there to be a premises liability case, the defendant’s carelessness must have injured the victim.
For example, as mentioned above, if the pathway into a business was icy because the business owner didn’t take proper precautions, you may have a premises liability claim.
However, if the path is slippery because a third party spilled water and the business owner was unaware of the spill, a premises liability claim would be much more difficult to prove.
What Type of Evidence Is Used in a Premises Liability Case?
Evidence is key in creating a premises liability case. Below is an overview of the various methods lawyers can use to support your premises liability claim, depending on the specifics of your case.
Investigating the Accident Scene
Evidence from a forensic examination of the accident scene may support your claim for damages. A review of the property, for instance, might substantiate your entitlement to compensation if a dangerous condition (such as cracked flooring or pavement, broken steps, inadequate security, etc.) hurt you.
Someone might be able to testify in favor of your claim if they witnessed what happened or spotted you on the ground after you slipped and fell or suffered another premises-related harm.
After the incident, you might be able to talk with witnesses, or your premises liability lawyer might look into the matter and track down others who were present.
Many companies and apartment and condominium complexes have security cameras in place. If a camera captured the incident on video, your premises liability attorney might attempt to get the recording to serve as proof in your premises liability case.
Photos and Videos
Share any pictures or videos you may have taken at the accident scene with the premises liability lawyer at your initial meeting. The images from your camera or phone can be admissible as proof in your case by your premises liability attorney. The same holds if someone else took pictures or video at the site of the collision.
Internet and Social Media Posts
Suppose there is information about your accident on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Nowadays, there is a chance that if someone else recorded a video of your accident, they might have uploaded it online. In that case, your premises liability attorney can try to gather and use it to strengthen your case.
On the other hand, you must refrain from posting about the accident online, even though witnesses could do so. The insurance company will scrutinize any information you provide in the open, and adjusters may use your online comments to refute or reject your premises liability claim.
Was there a recent inspection failure on the property? Were there any recognized problems with the property’s security? Your attorney might be able to discover proof that the owner of the property was aware of the hazardous situation that resulted in your injuries by looking through the inspection reports for the property.
Prior Complaints Made by Other Customers
Your attorney can also look into any past claims against the property owner. It is essential to discover whether other individuals were hurt in the same or similar sorts of occurrences, even if these complaints may not show responsibility in your case or support your claim for damages.
Does a Property Owner Owe Everyone a Duty of Care?
Generally, a property owner does not have to protect everyone from every type of harm. However, depending on the situation, property owners owe some individuals more of a duty of care than others.
An invitee is a person who enters a property for the defendant’s advantage (financial or otherwise), such as a client at a hair salon or someone who enters a building or public space (like a shopping center).
This “invitation” requires the property owner to have a duty of reasonable care, which requires them to keep their facilities reasonably safe to prevent injuries to invitees.
Invitees expect high levels of reasonable care. For instance, the law implies that when a business constructs a display, it must do so safely to ensure that the construction won’t fall on you as you pass by.
Additionally, it implies that a mall must properly salt all of its parking lots and sidewalks throughout the winter.
Any individual on the property with the defendant’s direct or inferred authorization is a licensee. Social visitors, for instance, are licensees.
Any hazardous barriers or situations that might put a licensee at risk of injury must be disclosed by the property owner to the licensee, even if the licensee was already aware of them. The licensee’s family or visitors were still unaware.
The property owner’s job is to notify you in advance so that you may take precautions to avoid slipping and falling. For example, if they were aware of a loose stone on the route entering the home when they invited you to a party, they are obligated to let you know.
However, an individual’s status can always change. For example, a social guest’s standing would probably transition from “licensee” to “trespasser” if they were requested to leave the property and refused.
Anyone who enters or remains unauthorized on another person’s property is a trespasser. Trespassers have a lower threshold of reasonable care than invitees and licensees do. Trespassers must only be protected against malicious or wanton injury by property owners.
Traditionally, the defendant’s only obligation to trespassers was not to intentionally or carelessly hurt them.
What Are the Steps in a Premises Liability Case?
The initial stage in pursuing a premises liability claim is submitting a claim with the appropriate insurance providers. You can save time by settling fairly with the insurance provider without going to court.
Medical bills, medical records, and verification of missed wages are all acceptable forms of loss proof. The insurance adjuster will look into the matter and request that you give a statement. They will question potential witnesses, investigate the site, and either settle with you or reject your claim.
You have the choice to initiate a lawsuit if you cannot settle or if the defense rejects your claim. You have two years from the incident’s date to initiate a lawsuit in California.
Get a knowledgeable premises liability attorney to defend you throughout this process. Your attorney will guide you through every stage of the process and work to secure a just settlement. The insurance company represents the defendant. Thus, they are not acting in your best interests.
In the claims procedure, your attorney is the one on your side. They will demonstrate to the insurance company how serious you are by filing a lawsuit if you cannot settle. They will see to it that you receive the medical attention you require, and their staff will be in charge of compiling the proof you need to support your claim.
The last thing you need after being hurt due to someone else’s carelessness is the strain of navigating an insurance company’s red tape alone.
Were You Injured on Someone Else’s Property?
Complexity can arise in premises liability cases. Were you a trespasser, an invited guest, or a licensee? Were you somewhat to blame? How much damage did you sustain? Your claim will get weaker the longer you wait to make it.
You most likely require a premises liability attorney if someone else’s property caused you an injury. To recreate the accident and ascertain who was responsible, you might also need the services of a premises liability specialist.
Don’t be concerned about the overall expense of this. You won’t be required to pay us anything if we lose your case. You will owe us a specific portion of your winnings if we prevail.
Look for a legal team with the knowledge and creativity to handle even the most difficult negotiations and premises liability cases. You need a small organization’s individualized attention, committed focus, and sense of teamwork, together with the resources and self-assurance to compete with any corporate team.