Premises Liability Is an “Umbrella”
The person who owns, possesses, or controls the premises is the one responsible for injuries due to a hazardous condition on that premises. Almost anything that can go wrong on another person’s property is covered under premises liability, such as:
- Slip-and-falls: Most premises liability claims involve either a slip or a trip and a fall. A cable cord crossing a hall in a workplace, a cracked or uneven sidewalk, or worn-down stairs with a broken handrail can all cause falls.
- Injuries caused by crime: It may seem odd to sue a store owner, hotel chain, or parking lot superintendent for injuries suffered in an assault or robbery. But when the property owner does not have adequate security measures in place, it is warranted. Certain places attract criminals, and the property owner can reasonably foresee this danger and take steps to protect his guests or patrons.
- Negligent Security: It may seem odd to sue a store owner, hotel chain, or parking lot superintendent for injuries suffered in an assault or robbery. But when the property owner does not have adequate security measures in place, it is warranted. Certain places attract criminals, and the property owner can reasonably foresee this danger and take steps to protect his guests or patrons. This can include ensuring the property is properly lit at all times, that security protocols such as locked gates are enforced, surveillance cameras are in working order, guest and visitor policies are enforced, and security personnel received proper training upon hiring.
- Swimming pool accidents: Without supervision, children can be seriously harmed at a pool. Without proper gates and fencing to keep uninvited visitors out, the pool owner can be held liable. One of our cases involved a minor child who drowned in a pool after getting through a hole in the fence where the metal bars were missing in the security gate. We settled for the policy limits of $1 million with Farmers Insurance. These “accidents” should not happen.
- Dog or animal attacks: Dog bites are often covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy, even if the attack took place at a public place. Pets are considered property in the eyes of the law. However, some breeds of dog are “blacklisted” by local insurance companies. Our team will go to work to find any applicable insurance policy or guilty party to seek compensation.
- Carbon monoxide poisoning: CO poisoning is a real danger whenever gas-burning appliances, such as a range or oven, furnace, water heater or fireplace, are used indoors and without proper ventilation. Landlords and apartment managers must install and maintain this equipment regularly, and by California law, must install a CO detector in each unit.
- Asbestos: Exposure to asbestos can result in severe respiratory illnesses, namely mesothelioma. The risks are well known to property owners, contractors, and manufacturers, yet there are still many scenarios where someone can be exposed to asbestos, especially when dealing with older buildings and construction materials. Ensuring that asbestos is removed from a building is the property owner’s duty and he or she can be held liable for renting rooms that contain asbestos.
- Lead Poisoning: Lead-based paints and pipes have become a major national concern, especially as we begin to see the effects of childhood exposure to these toxic materials. Federal legislature banned lead-based paint in 1977, but many homes built before 1978 may still contain it. Per federal regulations, landlords only have to disclose if a property contains lead-based paint before selling or renting it. If a property owner did not provide notice to new residents and you or a family member contracted lead poisoning, then the owner can be held liable for damages.
- Electrical Wiring: Electrocution can result in thermal burns, nerve damage, and even death, but there are also other risks from faulty electrical wiring. Improperly managed and installed electrical systems can cause fires. Property owners have a duty to ensure all aspects of a property, including electrical systems, are up to all city codes to avoid a safety hazard.
- Hazardous Equipment: Hazards on a property aren’t limited to holes in the ground or a slippery floor, but can include the equipment residents use on a daily basis, such as elevators, escalators, gym equipment, and golf carts. In addition, hazardous equipment can include a lack of warning signs, such as speed limits or stop signs in parking lots, as well as unsanitary equipment. For example, if a property owner does not regularly clean a gym swimming pool or sauna and members get skin infections, he or she may be liable for medical bills.
The essence of premises liability comes down to the property owner (manager, landlord, or employee on duty) knowing of a hazardous condition and fixing it within a reasonable period of time (or warning patrons about the hazard). We'll investigate and uncover all evidence of negligence or failure to perform duties, and use it to support your specific case. You have only two years to file a claim in California, so don't delay!
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How Can You Help Your Case?
If you are able to, doing the following things as soon as possible will help your premises liability lawyer:
- File a report with the property owner or manager and obtain a copy of that report, including time, location, and witnesses to your incident.
- Take photos of the scene where the incident occurred immediately. This will be very important for your case, should the area in question be repaired shortly after your injury.
- Identify any witnesses who may have seen the condition or area where your injury occurred, as reliable witnesses are crucial in this type of case.
There are some important questions that the jury will ask. How obvious was the hazard? Would a reasonable person have seen and avoided the hazard? For example, a broken porch step may be visible, but a rotten plank is not. Also, how much control did the property manager have over the hazard? Was he notified of the hazard and given time to fix it? For example, if a customer spills a drink in the aisle, and another customer slips on the spill within a minute, the jury will likely conclude that the employees didn’t have time to correct it.
If you've been injured as a result of someone else's negligence in Orange County, we urge you to contact us immediately to learn how to protect your rights. Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie has been handling claims in OC for over 40 years, and have won millions of dollars for deserving victims.
You deserve an advocate to get your life back on track. We’ll take care of everything involving the insurance company and the at-fault party so you don’t have to. Plus, we have a network of excellent medical providers and specialists we can refer you to, so that you’re taken care of. Call (949) 752-7474 to set up your free consultation at our Newport Beach office.
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