What Does Premises Liability Law Cover?
There are many different types of claims that will fall under the purview of premises liability law in California. Premises liability laws come into play any time an individual sustains an injury on another party’s property, specifically an injury that would have been foreseeable and preventable had the property owner exercised reasonable care. Premises liability claims can arise from injuries that occur on both publicly owned and privately owned properties, however, a claim against a government entity would follow a much different procedure than a civil claim against another private party.
For example, if you must visit your local courthouse for some reason and you slip, fall, and sustain a bone fracture due to an unmarked wet floor, you may not be able to file a claim against the courthouse due to sovereign immunity. However, a slip and fall attorney in Orange County or Los Angeles can be able to help you navigate the claims process for an alternative remedy as the law allows.
When a premises liability claim involves a private property, the case will follow the typical path of a civil personal injury claim. Premises liability lawsuits can include a wide variety of different case types.
Common Types of Premises Liability Cases
Premises liability is a broad spectrum of civil law covering many types of claims. Some of the incidents that can lead to premises liability lawsuits include:
- Slip and fall cases from unmarked wet floors or uncleared ice and snow.
- Swimming pool injuries caused by failure to maintain the pool responsibly.
- Accidents caused by defective conditions on a property, such as broken stairs.
- Injuries resulting from poor visibility, such as a staircase that does not have adequate lighting or a broken light.
- Negligent security. These cases typically involve hotels, motels, apartment buildings, dormitories, shopping malls, and other places typically open to the public.
- Injuries from poorly maintained elevators and escalators.
- Injuries from amusement park rides.
- Illness or injury caused by chemical exposure, toxic fumes, or other hazardous conditions allowed to persist on a property.
- Dog bites. Each state has different laws pertaining to injuries caused by domestic pets.
These examples serve to show how expansive premises liability law really is. While the concept of premises liability law may seem straightforward at first, these cases can be surprisingly complex.
Rules for Lawful Visitors vs. Trespassers
Premises liability law outlines property owners’ responsibilities when it comes to maintaining their properties and ensuring they are safe to lawful visitors. If a property owner identifies a safety issue that a lawful visitor is likely to encounter on the property, the owner must take reasonable steps to either correct the problem as completely as possible or ensure lawful visitors are aware of the hazard, such as placing warning signs nearby.
The distinction of “lawful” visitors is important in these cases. California law outlines the different types of visitors on a property and how the state’s premises liability laws pertain to them:
- Invitees are visitors who property owners have given express or implied consent to be on the property. Invitees usually include people like friends, family, or neighbors. Property owners have a duty of care to invitees to ensure their premises are free of safety hazards that invitees are likely to encounter on the property.
- Licensees are visitors who have the property owner’s express or implied permission to enter the property for their own purposes. Examples of licensees include salesmen, utility workers, and postal carriers. The duty of care to a licensee is lower than that owed to an invitee. Typically, a property owner must only warn the licensee of a known hazard if the licensee wouldn’t discover the hazard before an injury occurred.
There is no law requiring a property owner to take reasonable care in preventing injuries to unlawful visitors or trespassers. If an individual enters a property without the owner’s express or implied permission and sustains an injury, the trespasser will not have grounds for a premises liability claim against the property owner, even if the property owner knew about the hazard that caused the injury.
Exception to the Trespasser Rules
The one exception to the trespasser rule for property owners pertains to children. Since children cannot make decisions on the same level as adults, it is necessary for a property owner who knows children are in the area to take additional precautions to prevent injuries to those children should they wander onto the premises.
One legal concept that often arises in premises liability cases involving trespassing minors is the “attractive nuisance.” An attractive nuisance is anything on a property that could be considered irresistible to a passing child. Examples of attractive nuisances could include swimming pools, large fountains, trees with low branches for climbing, playsets for the property owner’s own children, ponds, or large sculptures. If there is a foreseeable risk of a trespassing child investigating such attractive nuisances and suffering injuries as a result, the property owner has a duty of care to take precautions against such incidents.
Experienced Premises Liability Attorneys
Property owners must ensure the premises they own are free of hazards that may cause injuries to visitors on the property. Premises liability laws exist to ensure anyone injured due to a property owner’s failure to care for their property can secure compensation for resulting damages, such as medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. When an injury occurs due to an unsafe condition on the premises where the injury took place, the injured party should know their rights when it comes to pursuing legal action.
Why Choose Jolly Berry Law?
At Jolly Berry Law, our team has extensive experience working as personal injury lawyers in Mission Viejo, California. If you need a premises liability attorney in Orange County, California, our team has the skills, resources, experience, and professional contacts to help you build a solid case and maximize your recovery. Our team believes in aggressive and comprehensive legal counsel for every client we represent. We understand that premises liability cases can be complicated matters.