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Premises Liability Frequently Asked Questions


1. What constitutes “premises liability” under California law?

Premises liability refers to the body of law which holds a landowner and/or possessor of property liable for injuries to others sustained on their property. In California, a premises liability lawsuit often arises from a landowner’s or occupant’s failure to either correct a dangerous condition on their property or warn or its existence.

2.What are the legal elements of a California premises liability action?

As in any other California personal injury lawsuit, the injured party plaintiff, must prove that the defendant (in this case, landowner or occupant) was negligent towards the injured plaintiff. It must be shown that the landowner/occupant possessed the premises at the time of the accident and that they had control of the premises, and control of the condition thereof. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed a duty of due care to the plaintiff, that this duty was breached, and that the breach was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

3. What are the most common types of premises liability cases in California?

Slip and fall and trip and fall accidents are by far the most common claims in California premises liability law suits. Common causes of slip and fall or trip and fall injuries are due to a foreign substance on the floor. The foreign substance is often either sticky or slippery. Other common causes are from unmarked uneven surfaces, or unmarked stepdowns, or holes in the walking surface, or defects in the floor, stairs, or stairways.

Other common examples of premises liability actions include, but are not limited to dog bites and animal attacks. A property owner/occupant is strictly liable for dog bites in California. Dangerous conditions on the premises contributing to injuries may include unsafe design and/or unsafe construction of buildings, or overgrown or uncontrolled landscaping, poor lighting or inadequate lighting, or inoperative lighting. Uncovered holes, unmarked ditches or culverts, dangerous debris or broken glass or sharp objects may also cause injury on the premises, as well as defective equipment or machinery, or malfunctioning traffic lights.

Other dangerous conditions leading to premises liability lawsuits may include fire hazards, toxic chemical exposure, toxic mold, asbestos exposure, or lead poisoning, or poor circulation or ventilation causing “sick building” syndrome.

4. Is it possible to file a California premises liability lawsuit if injured by assault or other criminal conduct?

Yes, it is possible. Every situation is different, therefore you must consult with a California premises liability attorney to ascertain where responsibility for your injury lies.
Generally speaking, a landowner must exercise reasonable care for the safety of persons on his premises. If the landowner knew, or should have known, of the danger of being injured, by the negligent or willful or criminal behavior of others on his premises, then he (may have) had a duty to provide adequate security to prevent foreseeable injury. Please call us to speak with a California premises liability lawyer regarding your specific circumstances.

5. What damages can I recover in a California premises liability case?

An injured plaintiff who successfully proves their claim, is entitled to recover economic damages for every out of pocket expense he has incurred, or will incur, as a direct result of the accident, including, but not limited to, medical expenses, lost wages and future lost earning potential. The plaintiff is also entitled to monetary recovery for such non- economic damages as pain and suffering and lifestyle alterations. Lastly, if the defendant engaged in wanton, willful behavior in reckless disregard for the safety of the plaintiff, punitive damages may be imposed to punish the defendant and to deter him and others from engaging in the behavior that caused the injury.

6. What should I do if I’m not sure if I have a viable premises liability case?

By all means give us a call! Our California premises liability attorneys are here to serve you. One of our California premises liability lawyers is available 7 days a week to answer your questions, so please do not hesitate to call us right now for a FREE CONSULTATION.