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Things to Know About Premises Liability

A Plate with inscription Premises liability and gavel.

When you enter a store or otherwise go on someone else’s property, you don’t think twice about the safety of the premises. You just naturally assume that the property owner and employees are looking out for your safety and taking care to keep the premises clear of any hazards. What happens if they don’t take care, though, and you slip, trip, get hit by a falling object, suffer a burn or electric shock, or get hurt in any of the other countless ways possible because of a dangerous condition on the property?

The law of premises liability determines when property owners are liable to you for any injuries you suffered on their property. Below are some important things to know about premises liability in California. If you have been injured in a slip and fall or other incident in Southern California, call Machtinger Law in Los Angeles for a free consultation with an experienced and successful California premises liability lawyer.

What Is Premises Liability?

Premises liability refers to the legal responsibility that property owners have toward visitors on their property. If a visitor gets injured due to unsafe conditions, the property owner could be held liable for the damages. Premises liability applies to all types of property, from private homes and apartment complexes to commercial establishments like grocery stores and restaurants or government buildings and public property.

Key Elements of a Premises Liability Claim

For a premises liability case to be successful in California, the injury victim must be able to prove four main elements:

  1. Ownership or Control: The defendant owns, leases, occupies, or controls the property.

  2. Negligence: The property owner acted negligently in the maintenance or care of the premises.

  3. Causation: The property owner’s negligence directly caused an injury.

  4. Damages: The injury can be redressed through financial compensation for harm such as medical expenses, lost income, or pain and suffering.

Common Types of Accidents and Injuries in Premises Liability Cases

The scope of injuries can vary widely in premises liability cases, but they often include:

  • Slips and falls due to wet or uneven surfaces can result in strains and sprains, fractures and broken bones, and back, neck and head injuries

  • Dog bites or animal attacks can cause facial lacerations and puncture wounds, antibiotic-resistant infections, and emotional trauma

  • Burns or electrical shocks can lead to painful scarring and disfigurement requiring multiple surgeries and skin grafts, and psychological damage

  • Falling objects can cause traumatic brain injuries or death

  • Inadequate security can result in severe physical and emotional harm from attacks and assaults, including sexual assaults

Comparative Negligence in California

Premises liability cases frequently involve the application of California’s doctrine of comparative negligence. Property owners and their insurance companies will often allege that the victim was responsible for the accident by failing to watch where they were going or avoid an obvious hazard. Even if this is so, injury victims can still recover compensation from negligent property owners for their share of fault in creating or failing to remedy the dangerous condition. Understanding California’s comparative fault rules is essential to holding negligent parties accountable for the full extent of their liability and not being blamed for an accident that wasn’t your fault.

Statute of Limitations

In California, the timeline for filing a lawsuit in premises liability cases is two years from the date of the injury. Missing this deadline could mean losing your right to pursue legal action. Contact an attorney sooner rather than later to ensure the statute of limitations is calculated correctly and not missed.

What to Do if You Are the Victim of a Premises Liability Accident

If you find yourself a victim of an accident on someone else’s property, take the following steps:

  1. Seek Medical Attention: Your health should be your first priority.
  2. Document the Scene: Photos, videos, and witness accounts can be crucial.
  3. Report the Incident: Notify the property owner or manager.
  4. Consult a Personal Injury Law Firm: Speak to a qualified attorney to assess your case and guide you through the legal process.

Effective Help With Premises Liability Claims in Southern California

If you or a loved one was seriously hurt in a slip and fall or other accident in Los Angeles or Orange County, call Machtinger Law at 310-943-9300 for advice and representation from a skilled and dedicated Southern California premises liability attorney.

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