Most people feel relatively safe when they’re shopping for groceries, having dinner at a restaurant, or spending a night on the town with friends. For the most part, these scenarios are fairly predictable and almost never lead to accidents. But when property owners are negligent and fail to keep their premises in reasonably safe condition, serious injuries are likely to occur.
If you or a member of your family was injured due to hazardous conditions on someone else’s property, you may have grounds for a premises liability claim. Depending on the facts surrounding your case, the owner or occupier of the property may be liable for your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages.
In this blog, we’ll discuss a few common scenarios that lead to premises liability claims in California. If you need advice about your specific case, please call the Law Office of Michael D. Waks at (562) 206-1939 for a free consultation.
1. Freshly Mopped Floors or Spilled Liquids Without Warning Signs
Property owners have a legal duty to exercise reasonable care to keep their premises safe. This duty may include performing routine inspections to discover hazardous conditions, making any necessary repairs, and posting warning signs to alert guests about potential dangers.
That means when an employee of a supermarket or other business establishment mops a floor, they must post a warning sign so customers can avoid slipping and falling. Failure to do so may lead to a premises liability claim if a customer sustains injuries.
Likewise, if someone spills a beverage—whether it was an employee of the business establishment or a patron—and a person slips and falls, the victim might have grounds for a claim. In this scenario, it would be necessary to prove that the property owner or occupier had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition.
Actual knowledge means the property owner or occupier actually knew about the hazard—for example, because the owner or occupier created the hazard, or because it had been reported by a customer or employee. Constructive knowledge, on the other hand, means the owner or occupier should have known about the hazard through the exercise of reasonable care. For instance, if the spilled beverage had been on the floor for an hour before the slip and fall occurred, it may be presumed that the owner or occupier had constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition.
2. Broken, Cracked, or Uneven Sidewalks or Parking Lots
Some property owners perform routine maintenance on the interior of their buildings but neglect the parking lot and sidewalks. If you tripped and fell because a walkway was broken, cracked, or uneven, you may have grounds for a premises liability claim. Likewise, if you were injured in a car accident that occurred because a parking lot was negligently designed, marked, or maintained, the property owner may be held at least partially responsible for the resulting damages.
3. Broken or Missing Handrails
Sturdy handrails on stairways and certain walkways are essential for ensuring the safety of people who enter a business establishment. This is especially true for the elderly. If a handrail is broken or missing and a person is injured as a result, the victim may have grounds for a premises liability claim.
4. Obstructions on Stairs and in Aisles
An object left on a staircase, aisle, or another walkway could lead to severe injuries. If a business establishment fails to address such an obstruction or does not perform regular inspections to identify and remove tripping hazards, they may be held liable for any injuries that occur as a result.
5. Inadequate Lighting
Having sufficient lighting is especially important at entranceways and stairwells. If someone is injured because they were unable to see due to inadequate lighting, they may have grounds for a premises liability claim.
6. Dog Bites
In most dog bite cases, the owner of the dog is liable for the resulting damages. But if the owner or occupier of a property allows a dog to be on the premises and it bites someone, this may warrant a premises liability claim. These cases are more difficult and it is necessary to prove that the owner of the property knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous propensities to prevail against the land owner.
7. Negligent Security
If you were assaulted on a commercial property, such as a hotel or nightclub, you might have grounds for a claim against both the perpetrator and the owner or occupier of the property. The latter may be liable for at least a portion of your damages if the attack would have been prevented had adequate security been present on the premises at the time of the incident and the land owner had reason to believe that such security was necessary.
8. Attacks at Nightclubs
It goes without saying that violent attacks and serious injuries are far more likely to occur when people are intoxicated. If you were injured at a nightclub because you were involved in a fight with another patron or because a doorman or security guard was too aggressive toward you, the owner or occupier of the property might be liable for your damages. It is important to remember that your premises liability claim will not be successful unless you can prove that the owner or occupier of the property (or their employee) was negligent or intentionally wronged you. Common examples of negligence in these cases include:
- The doormen and security guards were improperly trained;
- There were too few security guards onsite;
- A doorman or security guard used excessive force to remove you from the premises; and
- A bartender was overserving patrons who were visibly intoxicated.
9. Inadequate Maintenance or Supervision at a Swimming Pool
From drowning to slipping and falling to diving board accidents, there are dozens of ways to sustain an injury at a swimming pool. A person who owns or operates a swimming pool has a legal duty to exercise reasonable care to make the premises safe for guests. This involves performing regular maintenance, posting warning signs, properly storing pool chemicals, and keeping drains covered. Failure to perform any of these duties could lead to severe injuries and may warrant a premises liability claim.
Discuss Your Case with a Long Beach Premises Liability Attorney
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
If you or someone you love was seriously injured on another person’s property, it is important that you take legal action as soon as possible. If you wait too long, the defendant might try to cover up or destroy evidence of negligence. For instance, surveillance footage may be erased, and the hazardous condition that caused your injuries might be fixed.
Attorney Michael D. Waks can perform an immediate investigation to gather evidence of liability before it becomes unavailable. He will visit the site of your injury, often with an accident reconstruction expert to review the incident and/or police reports, interview eyewitnesses, and try to obtain surveillance footage and any other evidence that might contribute to the strength of your claim. Michael can also review property maintenance records and any reports of past injuries on the premises to find evidence of negligence.
Your initial consultation is free, and we will come to you if you cannot come to us. We are available 24 hours a day to take your call. Dial (562) 206-1939 or use our Contact Form to schedule a case evaluation.
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