Premises Liability: Unsafe Conditions
Premises liability generally refers to injuries that occur to victims as a result of unsafe conditions on another person’s property. These types of cases can be almost limitless. They include accidents involving slip and falls, swimming pools, fires, explosions, roof cave-ins, broken glass, animal attacks, faulty store displays and inadequate security. Negligent premises conditions can exist in just about every type of building or open space, including homes, apartment complexes, theaters, malls, sports facilities, amusement parks, government buildings, commercial buildings, farms, and other open land spaces.
Liability of Owners and Others
The owner of property has a legal duty to use reasonable care to keep the area safe from dangerous conditions. However, other persons, such as a tenant, the manager of a property, and contractors working on the premises may also be responsible for maintaining it in a safe condition and could be liable for injuries which occur on the property as well. Often the determining factor is who has the right to control the premises where the accident occurs. If a party has the right to control property, then that party must exercise control in a reasonable manner to prevent foreseeable injuries. If multiple parties have the right to control the property, there may be multiple parties who are liable for an injury. Simply identifying the proper defendants can therefore be a complex task.
Duty to Inspect
An owner or occupier of property must use reasonable care to inspect the property and discover any unsafe conditions. The owner or occupier has a duty to correct, repair, replace, or give adequate warning of any condition that could be reasonably expected to harm others. For example, a store owner has a duty to make reasonable inspections of the store because of the danger of merchandise falling on the floor and creating a hazard for patrons. The same store owner has a duty to inspect the walkways and display aisles to ensure that no hazards exist that could lead to a fall, such as liquids, merchandise, or produce that may fall or that has fallen on the floor. The failure to make reasonable inspections may subject the owner or occupier to liability for injuries caused as the result of the failure to inspect.
Contact an Accident Law Firm
Effective handling of premises liability cases requires a thorough investigation and knowledge of the law and the facts and circumstances which caused the accident. It is essential to hire a well-established law firm with significant resources to retain investigators and accident reconstruction experts to help determine the cause of the accident. It is also vital to select a law firm with extensive experience in handling these cases in order to achieve optimum results. At The Reeves Law Group in California, our attorneys use the full force of our firm’s extensive resources and expertise to help injured victims receive the compensation they deserve.
What Exactly is Personal Injury?
Merely owning or occupying real property does not automatically make the owner or occupier of the property liable for injuries sustained on the property. There must be actual fault or negligence on behalf of the owner or occupier. Negligence means the person failed to use reasonable care to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition. It is often up to a jury to determine whether someone acted reasonably, considering all the circumstances which led to the injury. A jury may consider, for example, the likelihood that someone would be hurt by an unsafe condition and the severity of the potential injuries. A jury might also consider whether the owner knew or should have known about the unsafe condition and how difficult it would have been to correct that condition. Because there are many different types of situations that give rise to premises liability, these cases require careful analysis.
A visitor on someone else’s property must also act reasonably. If an unsafe condition of a property is so obvious that a person could reasonably be expected to observe it, the owner or occupier of the property may not have a duty to warn others about the condition. If a reasonable person would have seen the dangerous condition and been able to avoid it, the victim may be found partially or entirely at fault for the accident. If a victim is partially at fault, the concept of “comparative negligence” may apply. The percentage of the victim’s fault will be compared to the percentage of the defendant’s fault and the amount of damages recoverable by the victim will be reduced proportionally. If, for example, the victim is found to be 40 percent at fault and a defendant is 60 percent at fault, a victim will only be entitled to recover 60 percent of the total damages from the defendant.
If you have been involved in an accident, The Reeves Law Group can help. For an immediate consultation with a premises liability lawyer, please call us at (800) 644-8000 or e-mail us.