Broken wooden floor boards- premises liability

If you or someone you know has sustained injuries at a property, you may have a case for premises liability. This type of liability typically falls on the property owner, but as you will see below, there are exceptions, including parties who control or work on the property.


What is Premises Liability?

Simply stated, it is a legal claim brought by someone (the plaintiff) who has been injured, harmed, or otherwise suffered damages on someone else’s property owing to a dangerous condition or risk on that property. The claim will generally allege that the property owner or person in control failed to maintain safe conditions for visitors and that this failure caused the plaintiff injury or harm. 

To win a premises liability claim, the plaintiff must prove that the property owner or occupant was negligent in their duty to keep the property safe. This may involve demonstrating that the property owner: 

  • Knew or should have known about the hazardous condition.
  • Failed to fix it.
  • Did not warn visitors about it.

Depending on the particular facts of the case, the injured party may seek payment for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages. 

It is useful to note that the law of premises liability varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and the specific facts of your case will determine whether a property owner can be held liable for the injury that occurred to you on their property. If you have been hurt on someone else’s property, it is vital to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to evaluate your legal options and avoid missing important deadlines. 


What Are Examples of Premises Liability?

There are many ways premises liability can be charged. Some examples include:

  • Floors that are slippery from spilled food and drinks
  • Holes in flooring
  • Unsupervised and unsecured pools
  • Rugs that slide too easily
  • Improperly designed stairs
  • Exposed electrical wiring
  • Ill-maintained trees/ shrubbery
  • Unsafe pool measures
  • Poorly constructed/maintained balconies

Some conditions might be excluded from the insurance coverage of the owner, making it more difficult to collect compensation.


How Could a Landlord Be Proven Negligent?

In order to prove that a landlord was negligent, the first step is proving that they breached a duty of care to keep their property reasonably safe and to warn people of dangers that were present and not obvious. Part of this legal showing is proving that they were aware of, or should have been aware of, the dangerous condition. This duty extends not just to the owner, but to individuals in control or in possession of the property, such as tenants, contractors, or employees.

Defenses to Premises Liability 

California is a comparative negligence state. This means you can still recover, even if you were partially liable for the damages through your own negligence. Your recovery may be reduced by the amount of negligence that you were responsible for. 

The property owner may try to argue that the injuries that are being alleged were caused by something else or were present before the incident on the premises. They could also argue that the hazard was open and obvious, for example, and that the property owner had no duty to warn visitors.

For example, if a person runs into a couch and suffers an injury, the property owner could argue that the couch was clearly visible and that the injured person should have taken steps to avoid running into it. Going in the opposite direction with hypothetical facts, the property owner could argue that a hazard was not known by them and that there was not a reasonable time for them to see the condition, like a spilled drink in a restaurant that occurred right before the injured person slipped and fell. If the owner did not have notice and the opportunity to discover it hadn’t arisen, then they may be found not to be negligent.


How Can My Attorney Help in a Premises Liability Case?

If an accident takes place, an experienced attorney can help decode the complicated issues of liability. The more complex the events that caused the accident and the more significant the injuries, the more important it is to seek legal counsel. A law firm with experience in personal injury law and premises liability can guide you through your legal options and help you manage the legal process of seeking payment for your damages.

The experienced attorneys at Ellis Riccobono LLP invite you to meet with them if you have any questions about the information you have read above. The experts at our firm have represented many people who have been hurt due to unsafe conditions on someone’s property. We are dedicated to ensuring that your legal rights will be fully protected.

Call (424) 901-1202 or email today for a free consultation to learn what we can recover for you.