Were you injured on someone else’s property as a result of the property owner’s negligence? Under premises liability law, you may be entitled to compensation to help pay medical bills or replace your income while you are unable to work. 

Premises liability law holds that a property owner is liable for any unsafe conditions on their property. In California, property owners have a “duty of care” to maintain reasonably safe conditions and tell guests on the property of dangers that may not be open and obvious. An open and obvious defect on the property is something that a reasonable person would notice and avoid. 

To make a successful claim, you and your attorney must be able to prove the owner breached their duty of care to keep you from harm while on their property and that their negligence led directly to your injuries. 

The Fontana personal injury lawyers of OnderLaw understands that your primary focus should be on your recovery. You don’t need the added stress of managing a claim or a lawsuit while you are being treated for an injury. Our experienced attorneys have successfully protected our clients’ rights for nearly two decades, and we can do the same for you. Contact OnderLaw or visit our website today to set up a free consultation and discuss the facts of your case with a seasoned premises liability attorney. 

Property Owner/Manager Responsibility in California

Property owners and property managers have a duty to their tenants, customers, and visitors to keep the property safe and free from hazards that may cause injury. This is why you may see temporary warning signs if a liquid spill or a defect in a structure such as a balcony or a staircase makes an area unsafe. 

California has civil and government codes that speak to these legal issues: 

California civil code §1714(a) provides that the owner/occupier has a duty to keep the area safe and free of defects. This includes commercial businesses, rental spaces, homes, and apartments. The term “reasonably safe” is interpreted to mean those steps that a prudent owner would have taken under similar circumstances.

California government code §835 covers public entities that are liable for injuries caused by a condition on the property that is unsafe at the time of an accident, resulting in injury. The term “public property” is not limited to government buildings but includes anything owned by a public agency. This could include a city or county community center, theaters at public high schools or community colleges, football stadiums, basketball arenas, and municipal parks.

Most cities and counties have ordinances that cover other public areas, such as sidewalks. Many times, they specify the adjacent landowner is responsible for maintaining the safety of the sidewalk.

Places Where Premises Liability Claims Could Arise

There are many properties where a person may be injured due to the property owner’s negligence. Claims and lawsuits under this code are usually personal injury claims. These can happen if a person is injured in or on a:

  • Store
  • Home
  • Shopping mall
  • Hotel/motel
  • Amusement park
  • Sidewalk
  • Escalator/elevator
  • Swimming pool
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Construction sites
  • Animal bites

After a personal injury, your attorney will help you identify the liable party or parties. This can include:

  • Property owner
  • Person leasing or occupying the property
  • The company controlling the property
  • Property management company
  • Tenant or renter
  • An employee of any of the above

Types of Premises Liability Accidents

There are numerous types of accidents that are covered under premises liability. While there are too many to name, here are some of the more common personal injury accidents that may be covered:

  • Slip and fall
  • Accumulation of snow and ice
  • Hidden extension cord
  • Unsecured rug or carpet
  • Defective stair or threshold
  • Loose or broken floors, sidewalk or stairs
  • Porch or deck collapse
  • Electric shock
  • Near drowning
  • Drowning
  • Elevator/escalator accident
  • Unsecured or falling object
  • Safety code violation
  • Missing or damaged lighting
  • Poor maintenance
  • Flooding
  • Loose nails or screws
  • Large or small equipment accident on construction site

The type of injury can vary widely depending on the type of accident and where it happens. Injuries can include:

  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Chemical exposure
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Coma
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Internal injuries
  • Pulled muscles
  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Head or neck injuries
  • Torn ligaments
  • Electric shock
  • Death

The law also distinguishes between the various types of visitors to a property when determining liability. Liability does not depend on the classification, but it could affect a lawsuit. These classifications include:

Invitees: These are individuals who visit the premises for the mutual benefit of the invited person and the owner, with the owner’s knowledge and consent. The owner or person occupying the property must repair any property damage or warn the invitees of the potential risks. 

Licensees: These individuals have consent from the owner to enter the area. The owner or occupant must provide adequate warning of any hazards that may lead to injury.

Trespassers: These are individuals who do not have permission to enter the premises but do so anyway. The owner or occupant has no obligation to warn the trespasser of dangerous conditions but must take precautions against causing physical harm to anyone entering the property.

Compensation For Injuries on Private, Public, or Commercial Properties

If you or a loved one has been hurt on someone else’s property, it’s essential to begin preparing your claim immediately. At the time of the accident, it’s helpful to take pictures of where you were injured and to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Any injury you sustained must be documented by a physician. Even if you don’t think you are injured, it’s crucial to seek a medical evaluation because sometimes injuries can appear hours, days, or weeks later.

It is also essential to seek the advice of a Fontana premises liability attorney who can help walk you through a claim or personal injury lawsuit. The injury should be reported to the owner or management of the building. Be sure an incident report is filled out and signed, and that you obtain a copy. If necessary, call 911 so that a police report can be filed. The police may also help gather evidence from the scene and get a list of witnesses.

The legal team at OnderLaw can help prepare to file a claim. The amount of compensation you can obtain will depend on various factors, including the severity of your injuries, the amount of time you must take off work, and other factors. Compensation is broken into three broad categories. These include economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. There are several types of economic damages, which include:

  • Medical expenses – Any medical expenses from an injury may be covered by an insurance claim or a lawsuit. Be sure to keep all of your medical bills and a diary of office visits. Medical expenses can include emergency transportation, prescription medication, medical devices or prosthetics, and surgery costs, among other expenses. 
  • Lost wages – If an accident or injury requires you to take time off of work to recover or undergo rehabilitation, you may be compensated for your current lost wages. If your physician anticipates that the injury will prevent you from going back to your job, you may also be compensated for some future lost wages.
  • Property damage – If you experience a premises liability accident that damages personal property, you may claim compensation for the loss. For example, if your apartment is flooded and destroys your video and audio equipment, the insurance company may cover the loss.
  • Household expenses – If your injuries from a premises liability accident prevent you from taking care of your home, you may be compensated for extra help to perform household chores like cooking and cleaning.

Personal injury claims may also include non-economic damages. These can include:

  • Emotional distress – Damages awarded for emotional distress are intended to help make amends for any emotional or psychological harm that results from an accident. This can include anxiety, depression, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and fear.
  • Pain and suffering – Any severe injury has the potential to affect your physical and mental health. An insurance claim or lawsuit may award pain and suffering compensation to make up for the inconvenience and physical/mental pain resulting from an accident.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life – If an injury from the accident means you cannot participate in activities you once enjoyed, you may be compensated for that loss. For example, if a broken ankle prevents you from biking or running, or a broken leg prevents you from exercising your horse, that would constitute a loss of enjoyment of life. 
  • Lost opportunity – An injury from a premises liability accident can leave you unable to complete a planned activity. For instance, if a broken arm prevents you from starting college in the fall, you may recover compensation.

Under California law, the plaintiff in a premises liability claim may also be awarded punitive damages. These do not fall into the category of economic or non-economic damages because they are not designed to compensate you for any specific loss. Instead, the intention is to punish the defendant and deter them from behaving in the same manner again.

These damages are awarded when the defendant acted with oppression, fraud, or malice. However, the burden of proof is higher than for other damages. It requires you to provide clear and convincing evidence the defendant acted with full knowledge that their actions would harm others. In the state of California, there is no cap on punitive damages.

Call OnderLaw Today for a Free Consultation

If you have been injured in a premises liability accident, seek the care and attention you’ll receive from the legal team at OnderLaw . Our attorneys will help protect your rights and will negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company. We recognize the financial burden that a personal injury accident can place on you and your family.

Your first consultation with our lawyers is free. During this appointment, we will review your case and advise you of your legal options. Don’t wait to call. California has a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury cases. If you don’t file in court within this time, you will likely forfeit your ability to pursue compensation through the court system.

Contact OnderLaw today or on our website for your free consultation!