Category Archives: Premises Liability

What is a Shared Fault Law and How Can it Affect Your Personal Injury Claim?

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Personal injury accidents are not always cut and dry. In California, shared fault laws can affect the outcome of your case. Aggressive insurance companies will use shared fault to their advantage, to minimize their client’s responsibility and damages payout. If you have been injured and are pursuing a personal injury claim, working with a highly experienced personal injury attorney at a reputable personal injury law firm can help you navigate the complexities of shared fault to ensure that you find justice in your case.

What is Shared Fault?

Shared Fault, or comparative negligence, is a law that allows for both the plaintiff and the defendant to be held partially liable for damages. In a situation where both parties were negligent, the court can issue percentages of fault, requiring each party to pay damages to the other, or mitigating the liability of the defendant. Comparative negligence follows the general understanding that the plaintiff does not have the right to recover what they contributed to the accident.

California is among the few states that abide by a “Pure” comparative fault rule which allows the defendant to recover some damages even if they are mostly at fault for the incident.

When Can Shared Fault Occur?

Shared fault can be found in many types of California personal injury cases. While most commonly seen in car accident claims, other common shared fault cases include:

Who Decides Percentages of Fault?

If you were injured in an accident that was caused by a drunk driver, but you were also driving distracted and did not see the other car, how much of the fault is placed on you versus the defendant must be decided. Typically, it is the judge or a jury who reviews the facts and makes an informed decision about the role each party played in the accident.

When your case goes to settlement or trial, your attorney will be able to negotiate the percentages of fault for your case. It may be found that the drunk driver in the example above was 80% at fault for the accident, and you were 20% at fault for driving distracted. The damages you receive would be reduced by the amount of 20%.

Every personal injury accident is unique and there is no absolute method to appropriating fault. With many factors that can influence comparative negligence in a case, it is important to have the support of a legal team who has the ability to advocate for you against large insurance agencies and big companies.

How We Can Help

If you have been injured by the negligence of another person in California, contact Rodriguez & Associates today at (661) 323-1400 or by filling out this online form. Our team of Bakersfield, California personal injury lawyers is skilled at handling all types of personal injury claims including those that involve shared fault, with the goal of securing the most possible damages for you as you recover.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 7:51 pm

Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Slip and Fall?

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Homeowners have the responsibility to ensure that their property is free of any hazards to visitors and occupants – including any object or condition that can lead to a slip and fall. Homeowner’s insurance policies typically cover the cost of medical expenses and other damages in case someone suffers an injury on the property, including slip and fall cases. However, the injured person will need to prove that the homeowner was negligent in his or her upkeep of the property to successfully claim that compensation.

Proving a Slip and Fall Case in California

In the state of California, you can claim compensation under homeowner’s insurance if the homeowner’s negligence was responsible for your slip and fall. You cannot claim compensation if the accident was not a result of an action by a homeowner or due to your own negligence.

For example, if you trip on wet grass on the homeowner’s front lawn after a rainy night, you cannot hold the homeowner liable for your damages. However, if you trip over a broken stair that the homeowner was aware of and suffer injuries, you could file an insurance claim for compensation.

To prove a slip and fall case in California and establish homeowner negligence, you and your Bakersfield personal injury lawyer will need to satisfy the following elements when speaking to the insurance company.

  • You will need to prove that the homeowner owed you a duty of care. If you were a visitor and not a trespasser, the homeowner has a responsibility to maintain safe premises. The homeowner also has the responsibility to fix any issues he or she is aware of that could lead to an injury.
  • Next, you will need to establish that the homeowner breached his or her duty of care to you in some way. This will likely involve proving that he or she knew about the issue that caused your slip and fall and failed to take action to fix it.
  • Then, you will need to prove that the homeowner’s breach of care led to your injuries. This element depends on what caused your slip and fall. A broken stair, failing to shovel ice or snow, or unsecure area rugs are all common causes of slip and falls on private property.
  • Finally, you will need to prove that you suffered damages that you can claim through the insurance company. These damages must be a direct result of the slip and fall that the homeowner’s negligence caused.

What Damages Can You Claim Through Homeowners’ Insurance?

Homeowners’ insurance policies typically offer two types of claim coverage: liability coverage and medical payment coverage, often referred to as med pay. Through these sets of coverage, you can collect compensation for any medical expenses you incur, lost wages during recovery time, property damage, and more. Speak to your attorney to determine which damages you may be eligible for.

However, you can only claim compensation up to the policy limits that the insurance company sets. If you suffered significant and severe injuries, are grappling with emotional damages, or missed months of work, you may not recover enough through an insurance claim to cover these costs. The insurance company may also offer you a settlement below what you need to recover.

In these situations, it may be best to file a personal injury lawsuit instead of an insurance claim. There are very few limits to the damages you can claim in a slip and fall lawsuit, as compared to the insurance process. Speak to your attorney to discuss your legal options and to determine which pathway is best for you.

Whether you slip and fall on someone else’s property or you are a homeowner facing a lawsuit, having homeowner’s insurance is crucial to ensure that an injured person receives the funds he or she needs to recover. Depending on the circumstances of the case, you may be able to claim compensation through homeowner’s insurance for a slip and fall. Contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case and to begin the filing process.

Posted by highrank at 6:24 pm

Understanding Premise Liability Claims

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Premise liability is a type of personal injury law covering accidents and injuries that result from a property owner’s negligence. The victim seeks compensation because the owner failed to act responsibly with their property, whether that’s a dog, a staircase, or an entire building.

In a premise liability case, the property owner could be found responsible for the victim’s medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, property loss or damage, and emotional or mental stress.  

Since this is a very complex area of personal injury law, your best bet is to get a seasoned attorney to go through the details of your incident with you and help you make an appropriate claim in seeking compensation from the property owner.

Here are some common types of premise liability cases:

“Slip and Fall” Accidents

A “slip and fall” injury case is when a person trips or slips, falls, and is injured on someone else’s property. To prove the owner was at fault, the injured person must be able to show that the accident happened as a result of dangerous conditions. That could be torn carpeting, oily floors, or damaged staircases, as well as cracked sidewalks or uncleared snow and ice around a building. In such cases, the property owner is responsible for compensation because the injury occurred as a result of their failing to maintain their property and/or warn others about any dangers.

Swimming Pool Accidents

When someone is injured in a swimming pool, the owner of the pool could be held responsible if they failed to take certain safety measures. This applies to public pools as well as those of private residences.

For example, in California, pool owners must have at least two safety mechanisms in place, such as a fence that isolates the pool or spa from the house, an approved pool safety cover, or an alarm in the pool that sounds when someone enters the water unauthorized. Public pools should include either a lifeguard on duty or warning signs when there isn’t one. Failure to comply with these regulations puts the pool owner at risk of being at fault if someone is injured or drowns in their pool.

Inadequate Building Security

Building owners of hotels, apartments, hostels, and dorms are responsible for ensuring the safety of guests and residents. This might include hardware, like building locks and security cameras. Owners can also limit who is authorized to enter the building by providing non-duplicatable keys to residents or having a door monitor on duty.

If safety measures aren’t in place and someone enters the premises and commits a crime (robbery, rape, assault), the owner could be responsible for compensation because they failed to take certain steps to ensure the safety of those inside the building.

Dog Bites

According to the  California Civil Code Section 3342, dog owners are “strictly liable” for any injuries their dog causes, meaning they are responsible even when their dog has no history of violent or aggressive behavior. If a victim can prove they were bitten in a public place or while lawfully on private land, the dog owner will be responsible for any damages, such as medical expenses.

Owners should always post signs on their property warning people there is a dog. When in public, they should properly leash their dogs, and if going on public transit with one, adhere to any rules and guidelines set down by the transit company.

As with most any type of law, premise liability cases come with their own complexities and exceptions to the rule. In some situations, you might not even realize the property owner was at fault for the accident and wind up taking responsibility for your injuries and missing compensation you are rightfully owed. Given that, it’s important to speak with an objective third party, such as an experienced attorney, as soon as you can after the incident.

Rodriguez and Associates has a long history of dealing with premise liability cases and successfully representing clients against wrongdoers. If you have been involved in an accident on someone else’s property, please reach out today to discuss your case.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 4:53 pm

Can a Burglar Sue for Injury?

Monday, December 18, 2017

Property owners have a duty of care to maintain the safety of the premises for those who come onto the property. Can a burglar sue for personal injury in Bakersfield? The short answer is yes, it is possible to sue for almost anything, though many claims will be dismissed as frivolous and may cost those attempting to litigate the issue for both their own court costs and the costs of those they intended to sue. However, there are some circumstances under which even burglars may be able to successfully sue for personal injury on your property.

A Duty of Care

The duty of care property owners have extends not only to store owners or other businesses but to homeowners as well. Homeowners must take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of those who come on their property. This includes ensuring sidewalks and driveways are free of ice during the winter and making sure trip hazards are addressed as needed.

This duty of care extends to those invited onto your property for a specific purpose. This can include a plumber who comes into your home to fix a leak, landscapers taking care of your yard, and contractors performing work in or around your home.

Licensees are people who have the consent of the homeowner to enter the home for their own purposes. This includes guests you may invite to your home for dinner, neighbors invited to a backyard cookout, and friends your children invite home after school. The homeowner has a duty to exercise reasonable care to ensure the licensee is protected from known dangers.

Trespassers, however, do not have a right to be on the homeowner’s property. In most cases, the homeowner has no obligation to protect the trespasser from dangers. This would include those invited to the home or licensees in the process of committing a crime in the home. For example, should an overnight guest attempt to steal your television in the night and injure themselves by dropping the television on their foot, the homeowner would not have a duty to protect from this danger.

Booby Traps

There are some exceptions, however, in which the homeowner may be responsible for the safety of a trespasser. A homeowner cannot set up booby traps designed to injure trespassers. Any conduct designed to willfully injure trespassers is not excused, and the burglar may sue for personal injuries that result. Home Alone may succeed as a comedy, but the bandits would likely have grounds to sue for the injuries they sustained.

Deadly Force

Homeowners do have the right to use deadly force to defend their lives in most states. However, you may never use deadly force to protect personal property. Unless you have reason to believe your life is in danger, any injuries or fatalities you cause a trespasser intentionally may result in a successful suit against you for injuries suffered by the trespasser.

While most suits for personal injury brought by a trespasser may be frivolous, it is always a good idea to consult a Bakersfield premises liability lawyer, should you ever find yourself in the position of being sued by a trespasser.

Posted by highrank at 7:56 pm

What to Do After a Slip and Fall Accident

Monday, December 11, 2017

Property owners have a duty of care to ensure that their property is safe for those who use the premises. Falling on someone’s property does not make the owner automatically responsible for your injury. It must be shown that the property was unsafe, and the conditions of the property caused your fall. The steps you take after your accident can help establish the facts of the case and make the difference in getting the compensation you are entitled to receive so speak with a seasoned Bakersfield premises liability attorney as soon as possible following your accident.

Immediately After Your Fall

Let the business  know about your accident and call for medical assistance. Even if you do not believe you are injured at the time, bruising, swelling and sprains can take time to become apparent. Internal injuries can go unnoticed by laymen that are spotted by trained medical personnel. In the shock after a fall, you may not notice an injury, but it is important to be careful what you say. Merely inform the appropriate personnel that you have fallen and need medical assistance, without volunteering information beyond what is strictly required.

Photographs Help Document the Cause of the Fall

While waiting for medical staff to arrive, it is helpful to document as much about the accident scene as possible in photographs. If you are not able to take photos, you can ask a friend with you to take the photos, or even ask bystanders to take photographs using your phone. It is important to have pictures of the area that caused the fall, paying special attention to any damage or other conditions that contributed to the accident. It is also good to have pictures of you, particularly showing any obvious injuries, the clothing you were wearing, and the shoes you had on at the time.

Identify Witnesses

If there were witnesses to your accident, ask them for their contact information while you wait for medical help to arrive. Having eyewitness testimony is very helpful for establishing the facts of the case. If you have any friends with you who can assist in getting their information, even better.

Take Notes Soon After the Accident

As soon as possible after the incident, write down some notes about your accident while the events are still fresh in your memory. This will not only lend credibility to your statement but establish the basis for your case when you first contact your attorney. Be as precise as you can about the details. Note the time and date of the accident, the exact location, what happened to cause your fall, and the injuries you suffered as a result.

Contact an Attorney

Insurance companies fight slip and fall accident claims vigorously due to the potential for large claims resulting from fall accidents and the perception that many people pursue fall claims fraudulently. If you have been injured due to dangerous conditions that were not addressed by a property owner in California, you are entitled to compensation. Having a Bakersfield injury lawyer on your side will help you collect the evidence to support your claim and can ensure that your rights are upheld.

Posted by highrank at 7:29 pm

What Are My Legal Options If I Was Hurt on Private Property?

Monday, November 20, 2017

You might assume that if a property is private, the owner has full rights to use and maintain it as he or she desires. This is not necessarily the case. Even owners of private properties have basic duties to keep the premises free from hazards. If you suffer an injury on someone’s privately owned property, the owner may be liable for your damages so it is always a good idea to speak with a qualified Bakersfield premises liability lawyer. Here is an overview of some possible legal options you have after an injury on private property.

Sue the Property Owner

A slip and fall, accidental drowning, criminal attack, or dog bite on private premises may give the injured victim grounds to sue the property owner. Your right to sue depends on your status as a property visitor or guest. There are three guest statuses, each with different duties the property owner owes:

  • Invitee. If the owner invites guests onto private property for reasons of his or her own, such as for a yard sale, barbecue, or pool party, the guests are “invitees.” As such, they are owed the greatest standards of care. The property owner must keep the premises free from known hazards, check for unknown hazards, and post warning signs if necessary.
  • Licensee. Licensees are people who enter private property for their own reasons. Examples include service teams and salespeople. Private property owners don’t owe licensees as many duties of care as invitees. They do not have to inspect properties for unknown hazards.
  • Trespasser. If you trespass on private property and suffer an injury, you most likely do not have a case against the property owner. Owners don’t owe trespassers any duties of care, other than a duty not to cause harm to the trespasser. If the trespasser was a child, on the other hand, the property owner has a duty to keep the premises safe.

To sue the owner of a piece of private property, you need proof that the owner owed you a duty of care, breached this duty, and that this breach caused your injuries. You must demonstrate that your accident and injuries would not have happened were it not for some act of negligence on the property owner’s part.

Sue the Business Owner

A commercial property can still be privately owned. If you suffer an injury on a commercial property instead of a residential property, you may be able to sue the business owner or corporation. The laws in most states hold commercial property owners to very high standards in terms of maintaining safe premises.

Since guests will be invitees, commercial property owners must take care to repair known hazards, such as uneven curbs or defective staircase railings. They must also check for hidden hazards, such as faulty electrical wires in the walls. Failure to maintain a safe business, resulting in guest injury, is most likely grounds for a suit.

Call an Attorney

Laws regarding home and business owners’ duties of care in regard to safe properties vary by state but keep the same general rules. If you’ve been injured on privately owned property, retain a reliable Bakersfield injury attorney experienced in premises liability cases. You will need to prove that the owner owed you a duty of care, but failed to act within the accepted standards. Negotiations with insurance companies and owners of private property can be difficult. A good attorney can make the process simpler and more rewarding.

Posted by highrank at 4:44 pm

Can I Sue a Hotel for Personal Injury?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Hotels owe very high standards of care to guests. Hotels guests are “invitees” by law, or visitors expressly invited to the property for the hotel’s benefit. As invitees, hotel guests have the right to an environment that’s free from hazards. It is every hotel’s duty to repair known dangers, search for unknown ones, and warn guests of risks that may not be obvious. Any breach of these duties, resulting in guest injury, may be grounds for a personal injury lawsuit so speak with an experienced Bakersfield premises liability attorney to learn more. There are four main elements you need to sue a hotel in Kern County:

What is a Hotel’s Duty?

Common accidents that can happen at hotels are slip and falls, elevator/escalator accidents, swimming pool accidents, food poisoning, parking lot car accidents, and acts of violence. If you suffer injuries after any type of incident at a hotel, start looking into your potential rights to sue. The elements needed to sue a hotel start with proving the hotel’s duty to you. This is typically an easy thing to prove since hotels automatically owe all guests and property visitors (other than adult trespassers) basic duties of care. These duties include:

  • Disclosing health and safety hazards
  • Protecting guests’ privacy
  • Keeping a reasonably safe premises
  • Not discriminating against guests
  • Taking adequate security measures

The hotel’s duties of care to you in a particular accident may depend on the circumstances surrounding your injuries. Say, for example, that someone mugged you in the hotel’s parking lot. If the courts deem that a history of crime at the hotel or other factor is enough for the hotel to have foreseen the attack, the hotel may be guilty of negligence if it didn’t take reasonable steps to prevent the mugging, such as hiring a security guard. If, however, the courts rule that the hotel didn’t have reason to foresee the attack, the hotel may not have owed you the duty to hire a security guard.

What is a Breach of Duty?

Breaches of duty can take many shapes and forms on hotel premises. A “breach” is any act or failure to act that goes against accepted standards of care for the industry and situation. Proving a hotel’s breach of duty or negligence may take an investigation of what happened. As an injured party, you must prove that the defendant acted in a way that a reasonable and prudent party would not have in similar circumstances, resulting in your accident.

Proving Causation

Injured hotel guests must prove that the hotel’s breach of duty of care was the actual and proximate cause of the accident in question. The “proximate cause” of an accident is the primary cause. It might not be the initial event that started the accident, but the action that produced the foreseeable negative consequences. The injured party must show that his or her injuries resulted directly from the proximate cause (the cause without which the accident would not have occurred.)

Substantiating Damages

Finally, the victim of a hotel accident must have real, compensable damages to have grounds to sue the establishment. If you did not suffer damages such as a personal injury, the wrongful death of a loved one, property damage, pain and suffering, medical bills, or lost wages, the hotel will not owe you anything, even if an accident happened. You must have suffered some kind of damages to have grounds for a lawsuit. Talk to a Bakersfield lawyer for more information about filing a suit against a hotel.

Posted by highrank at 4:13 pm