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PREMISE LIABILITY/ SLIP AND FALL
Property owners in the state of California are obligated to maintain a safe environment that is free of hazards and obstacles. It is the law. This standard of care applies to homeowners, business owners, and other commercial property owners. Unfortunately, many do not maintain this duty—whether due to financial costs for property upkeep / renovations or deliberate neglect. As a result, these owners leave visitors and passersby open to potential injury by hazards.
Hazards are not always easy to categorize: they could be as apparent as a staircase with an unsecured handrail or as inconspicuous as the presence of toxic asbestos. Regardless, when a property owner knows of dangerous conditions but deliberately ignores them, they are avoiding their legal responsibility to ensure their property is unlikely to cause harm.
Oftentimes, people assume that the mere existence of a potential hazard on someone else’s property is enough to justify submitting a premises liability claim. Unfortunately, there are other factors to consider. A claim can only be filed against a property owner if the complainant suffered an injury as a direct result of the hazard. One must also be able to prove that the owner knew or should have known about the hazard, but did nothing to correct it. Common sources of premises liability injuries include:
- Slip and Fall Accidents
- Negligent Security
- Elevator and Escalator Injuries
- Campus Injuries
- Porch Collapse
- Stair Collapse
- Swimming Pool Accidents
- Dog Bites
- Lead Paint Poisoning
- Mercury Poisoning
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Business and / or property owners have a legal responsibility to monitor and address slip and fall risks as they become available. Causes of slip and fall accidents can include:
- Wet floors (liquids, food / debris)
- Icy or snow-covered sidewalks / walkways
- Uneven or cracked sidewalks / walkways
- Grease spills
- Faulty flooring (loose carpets, broken floorboards)
Failure to prevent all of the avoidable causes above is considered an act of negligence, which may be grounds for a premises liability lawsuit.
Due to a special legal principle called negligent security, victims of violence may also be covered by premise liability law. Just as owners have a responsibility to maintain a safe environment free of avoidable hazards, they also have an onus to the public to avoid and / or prevent the hazard of violent crime. For example, if a business is located in a high-crime neighborhood, the property owner must adequately provide a feature like security (whether in the form of deadbolt locks and / or security guards) and good lighting. Failure to do so may result in a violent crime, after which a victim may hold the business or property owner responsible.
What does a premise liability case involve?
Despite the sensitive nature of all different types of liability cases, there are typically four unique aspects involved during the litigation process:
- Proving that a property owner was responsible for providing the victim with a duty of care. Public and private entities owe everyone a duty of care (with the exception of those who are trespassing or uninvited).
- A defective condition existed on the property prior to the victim’s accident. This applies to conditions that the owner may or may not have already known about (i.e. icy sidewalk outside a business during winter months, broken tiles due to construction, poor lighting during evening / night hours).
- The defective condition directly caused the victim’s accident.
- The victim incurred damages as a result of the defective condition—these damages can include lost wages, pain, and suffering or unpaid medical bills.
If any of the above information sounds relevant to your situation, you need a premises liability lawyer working for you.
Hiring a lawyer to put together a case means that you can hand all responsibilities over to someone with relevant experience and knowledge, allowing you to focus on your own recovery. It also ensures that you have a greater chance of receiving the maximum amount of compensation to which you are entitled.
If you have been injured in a premises liability accident, your case may be resolved simply through standard insurance claim practices. If not, you may benefit from working with a personal injury attorney. In cases where a settlement does not cover the full cost of your expenses—including injury or death—you should reach out to the professional team at EFS Law Center for a free consultation.
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Sherman Oaks, CA 91423