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Home  »  California LawPersonal Injury   »   Guide To Premise Liability Law In California

Guide To Premise Liability Law In California

Mar 13, 2020

If you or someone you know has sustained an injury on someone else’s property, it’s important to guard yourself with some knowledge as to what is and what isn’t considered a premise liability case. We’ve put together some information on the matter and hope you find the following guide helpful. 

Premise liability cases fall under the larger umbrella of personal injury law. In California premise liability is based on the general principles of negligence, as controlled by statute and case law. This means the owner of a property—be it a management company, corporation, or individual owner—must make reasonable efforts to ensure that a given space is safe for you to be in. If they haven’t, you’re likely entitled to compensation.

Types of Premise Liability Claims

Incidents which may fall under premises liability include: slip and fall accidents, swimming pool accidents, and dog attacks. Of these, “slip and falls” are the most common. Causes include wet floors, unmarked obstacles, faulty stairs, and other such dangers. A premise liability lawsuit can also result from injuries caused by open swimming pools, broken elevators, or violent customers or guests. 

With over 20 years experience in the advocacy of our clients, we’re uniquely qualified to handle premise liability claims. To date, our firm has recovered over $20 million in claims as a result from slip & fall injuries alone. Whatever the cause, this kind of injury can pose a significant burden to anyone who experiences them, resulting in loss of income, psychological trauma, and the inconvenience of having to reorder your life around recovery. No on expects to have their life interrupted by such an event, and securing a solid ally is something you deserve.

The work of a premise liability attorney begins with listening to your story. We want to know, first, how you experienced the situation, and what led to your injury. We then establish the the existence of a duty on the part of the defendant to use due care, if there has been a breach of this legal duty, and that the breach is the proximate or legal cause of the resulting injury. 

Grocery Store Example

In order to cut through the jargon, let’s take the example of a grocery store. By nature, you’re invited to inspect, remove, and replace goods on the shelves. This presents the possibility of, say, the customer prior to you disarranging the merchandise in a way that creates an unsafe environment. Under premise liability law, the owner’s responsibility here is not limited to simply ensuring that you can safely walk through the store without slipping, but extends to ensuring that those items are then rearranged in a way that maintains the safety of the environment. Whatever that course of action may be, like performing more frequent inspections, it’s the property owner’s responsibility, not yours. 

Manufacturing Defect Example

Another example that we have particular experience in comes in the form of manufacturer defect. One of our clients was visiting a trampoline park in Orange County with his family on a rainy Sunday afternoon. While they played a game of trampoline dodgeball, the young man’s leg slipped under the padding of the court and his knee was impaled by an exposed bolt. The impact fractured his patella. The company would not agree to settle, and so the case moved into litigation, where the victim was offered only $5,000 in compensation for his injury. We were able to show that both the manufacturer and the park itself were responsible, convincing the court to also dismiss the waiver he’d signed, and obtained a favorable verdict against both parties for $1.1 million

Another relevant duty of an owner has to do with surveying the actions of anybody else coming onto the property. It’s their responsibility to ensure that these third parties are acting in a way that does not endanger you or anybody else in the environment. That means they need to take affirmative action to do so. This takes attention, and constant vigilance from an owner, and unfortunately this doesn’t always happen. 

In a perfect world, you’re visiting us today as part of your own research, as a means to protect yourself against the possibility of injury, and to be informed in case you ever need to file a premise liability complaint. But if you’re injured, and a property owner failed in their duty to provide reasonable safety and security in their building or on their land, you’re dealing witha   potential premises liability claim. That means the courts are ready for you to seek a financial settlement as compensation for your resulting injuries.

Going into it, you should know the kind of considerations a court balances when deciding on premise liability settlements. The major ones are:

  1. If the harm you sustained was foreseeable to the owner
  2. The closeness of connection between the owner’s conduct and the injury you suffered. 
  3. The moral blame that can be attached to the owner’s conduct, or lack thereof. 
  4. Their policy of preventing future harm. 
  5. The availability, the cost, and the prevalence of insurance for the risk involved in your injury. 
  6. How much care the owner actually exercised in the prevention of harm. 
  7. Most importantly, the extent of the burden, and the consequences to you as part of a community that they have a duty to protect. 

These are difficult conversations to navigate and we pride ourselves on having a client’s back from our initial conversation to settlement negotiation, and, if need be, litigation. What’s that process actually look like? Every case is different. Premise liability definition is wide and can be difficult to interpret. 

Every case begins with the filing and service of a Summons and Complaint. The Complaint will contain one or more causes of action, such as “Breach of Contract” or “Fraud.” After the Summons and Complaint have been filed with the court, they must be properly served on the defendant. They then have 30 days from the date of service of the Summons and Complaint to serve on the Plaintiff(s) either an Answer to the Complaint or a pleading challenging the sufficiency of the the Complaint.

Every case begins with the filing and service of a Summons and Complaint. The Complaint will contain one or more causes of action, such as “Breach of Contract” or “Fraud.” After the Summons and Complaint have been filed with the court, they must be properly served on the defendant. They then have 30 days from the date of service of the Summons and Complaint to serve on the Plaintiff(s) either an Answer to the Complaint or a pleading challenging the sufficiency of the the Complaint.

Once the Complaint and Answer have been filed both parties commence “discovery” procedures by which the evidence necessary to prosecute both sides of the case. If a party fails or refuses to comply with discovery requests, it may be necessary to make a motion in court to compel responses. If the court grants the motion, further responses will be made. If those responses are still inadequate, another motion may be made and the court can fine the resisting party. In extreme cases the court can even terminate the action in favor of the moving party.

Throughout the case the court will set a series of Case Management Conferences to be attended by attorneys for all parties. These hearings are designed to determine whether the case is ready for trial. When the court feels that a case is ready for trial, it will set the date and make orders concerning completion of discovery and final preparation.

Now, the vast majority of cases settle before trial, but if the parties cannot settle the case, that’s the only way to resolve the issue. Whichever form the proceedings take, having a solid advocate can make all the difference. So, what makes a good premise liability lawyer? At the core of our firm is Samuel Dordulian, former Deputy District Attorney, who has a vast array of experience prosecuting criminals and seeking justice on behalf of their victims. Now days, he’s based in Glendale, CA and is using this tenacity and experience to help people who need it most. With over $50 million recovered, and more than 1000 injury cases successfully represented, we’re here if you ever need us.

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