Southern California Premises Liability Attorney Serving Slip and Fall and Dog Bite Victims in Los Angeles and Orange County
Premises liability refers to the legal obligation of a property owner to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition for the safety of others who come onto the property. Some of the most common types of premises liability cases in California include a slip and fall, trip and fall, dog bite, or criminal attack. Premises liability injuries can range from the painful and embarrassing to the serious, catastrophic or fatal. In fact, falls are the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., not counting drug overdoses. More people die in falls every year than in car accidents.
If you’ve suffered a serious or catastrophic injury due to a fall, dog attack, or criminal attack in Los Angeles or Orange County, or if you lost a loved one because of an unreasonably dangerous condition on someone’s private, public, or commercial property in Southern California, then Machtinger Law can help. With over 30 years of litigation experience including over 12 years exclusively representing injury victims in Southern California, we have the knowledge, the skills, the dedication and the resources to take on irresponsible property owners and hold them accountable for the harm they have caused by their negligence.
Premises Liability for Slip/Trip and Fall Accidents
Falls are common and can happen for a number of reasons. Often, it’s the fault of the property owner, management, or employees who let a dangerous condition go by uncorrected for an unreasonably long period, and somebody falls and gets hurt. Serious and catastrophic injuries can result from a slip and fall or trip and fall, including broken bones from ankles and wrists to hip fractures, facial scarring, brain injuries and concussions, back injuries, and wrongful death.
The leading cause of slip and fall accidents is a spilled liquid which most commonly occurs in grocery stores, bars, and restaurants but can happen anywhere. Here in Southern California, water tracked inside a hotel or beachfront property from the ocean or a swimming pool creates another common hazard. Any time a floor is made especially slippery after mopping or waxing without putting up a “wet floor” sign, unsuspecting patrons risk a serious slip and fall injury.
In addition to slip and fall accidents, trip and fall injuries can occur for a long list of reasons, including most commonly:
- Objects or merchandise falling off shelves or left on the floor
- Boxes and displays obstructing foot traffic areas
- Torn carpeting
- Unmarked steps
- Broken steps
- Loose or absent handrails
- Inadequate lighting
- Cracks in outside pavement and sidewalks
California premises liability law imposes a duty on property owners to use reasonable care to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition. Specifically, the California Civil Jury Instructions tell a jury in a premises liability case that:
“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, except so far as the latter has, willfully or by want of ordinary care, brought the injury upon himself or herself.”
For a commercial establishment, this duty generally includes the obligation to make routine, periodic inspections of the premises, repair any unsafe conditions, and warn the public about any unrepaired hazards that exist.
Despite the duty to prove a safe environment, property owners and their insurance companies find many ways to try and avoid liability after a slip and fall or trip and fall accident. They might claim that the hazard was obvious and could have been avoided if the accident victim was paying better attention. Such an argument could be used to reduce or eliminate the extent of the property owner’s liability. They might also claim the victim is exaggerating their injury, or they’ll argue that the property didn’t have a reasonable opportunity to discover the hazard before the accident occurred.
For these reasons and others, premises liability cases can be challenging to bring and win. It’s important to report the accident to store management at the time it occurs and be treated by a doctor as soon as possible. As your attorneys, we’ll gather the evidence necessary to prove the property owner’s liability and the full extent of your damages. We’ll be ready with a strong argument to settle your claim with the insurer or take the case to court if necessary to get the right result.
Premises Liability for Dog Bites and Animal Attacks
Dog bites happen to millions of people every year in the U.S. alone, causing 800,000 people to seek medical attention. In the most serious cases, dog bites and attacks cause deep puncture wounds and resistant bacterial infections, fractures and crushed bones, torn flesh, facial lacerations and disfiguring injuries, nerve damage, and permanent psychological trauma. Dog attacks also cause dozens of deaths every year to infants, toddlers, and people of all ages. While any dog bite can be painful and frighteningly traumatic, at Machtinger Law, we focus particularly on cases involving serious injury, catastrophic injury, or wrongful death.
California law imposes strict liability on dog owners for the damage done when their dog bites another. There is no “one free bite” rule in California. Pet owners can be held liable the very first time their dog bites someone, even if the dog had never bitten or acted aggressively before and they had no prior knowledge that their animal might be dangerous. So long as the attack occurred out in public or while the victim was lawfully on private property, the owner can be held liable for the harm that results. This rule applies to bites as well as other injuries caused if a dog chases someone or aggressively knocks them down.
Despite this “strict liability” rule, dog owners might still have ways to escape liability for a dog bite. For instance, if they can prove the attack was provoked, then they needn’t be held liable. Likewise, if the victim was trespassing on private property or entered property that was posted with a “Beware of Dog” sign, the owner might limit or eliminate their liability. For reasons like these, it’s important to have a lawyer prepare your case to prove the owner’s liability to you for all the damages you suffered. If the owner acted especially outrageously, such as training their dog to attack and unjustifiably siccing their animal on you, they might even be liable for punitive damages.
We can prepare a strong case that proves the dog owner’s liability to you for the full extent of your damages. If the owner happens to be a friend, neighbor or family member, don’t worry that a claim or lawsuit might damage your relationship. Your claim can be paid through their homeowners, renters, or other applicable insurance policy, which is what those policies are for. The owner likely feels bad about what happened and will be glad to know their insurance can help pay for your injuries. If the claim is disputed, we’ll put our strong record of litigation experience behind getting you a successful result that meets your needs.
Premises Liability for Criminal Attacks
Property owners and business operators are obligated to keep their property safe for tenants, customers, and invitees. This includes preventing criminal attacks. Attacks by criminals include assault and battery, sexual assault, and even murder. A criminal attack can have devastating consequences, both physically and emotionally. Some attacks are perpetrated by a property owner or business’s own employees and independent contractors, including security guards. When an employee injures someone believing they are furthering the interests of the business owner, or when an employee does so for malicious, personal reasons but the business owner had reason to believe the employee was dangerous, negligently hired or supervised the employee, or approved of their conduct, the business can be held responsible for the damages its employee caused.
The law on when a property owner or business operator will be held responsible for a criminal attack by a third party, such as another customer or a stranger, is complex. The most important factors are whether the attack was foreseeable, and whether the owner or operator could have taken reasonable steps to prevent the attack. For example, when there have been previous robberies and assaults in a parking structure and the addition of better lighting and security cameras would deter future attacks, a property owner who ignores the danger and makes no safety improvements can be held responsible for additional attacks.
Machtinger Law has a track record of success handling criminal attack cases, and will use our experience to help you get you compensation if you are the victim of an attack because of how a property owner or business managed its property, business operations, employees, or independent contractors.
Premises Liability for Injuries Related to Treatment Centers
Our country has seen a steady increase in alcohol and drug dependence, as well as eating disorders. Alcohol and substance dependence, and eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, are illnesses. Our government and private insurance companies have tried to help those suffering from these illnesses get treatment, including in treatment centers and sober living homes that are paid to help people get well. Unfortunately, some treatment center operators are more concerned with making profits than they are with providing a safe environment for their vulnerable clients who come to them for help.
When a treatment center or sober living operator negligently fails to provide a safe environment for its clients, it can cause serious harms including assaults, overdoses, accidents, and even suicide and death. Some of these harms can take place off of the property of the treatment center or sober living home, but were caused by negligence in their operations. If you or your loved one has been the victim of a negligent treatment center or sober living home resulting in serious injury, catastrophic injury, or the loss of a loved one, call Machtinger Law and tell us what happened. We may be able to help you obtain compensation for your significant losses.
Get the Help You Need After a Serious Premises Liability Injury in Southern California
For help after a slip and fall, trip and fall, dog bite, criminal attack, or other premises liability matter in Los Angeles, Orange County, or elsewhere in Southern California, call Machtinger Law to speak with a skilled and compassionate attorney dedicated to representing victims of serious injury, catastrophic injury, and wrongful death.