Premises liability is a specific area of personal injury law that deals with injuries suffered due to negligence by property owners. These types of cases can be complex so it’s best to seek help from a qualified Bakersfield premises liability lawyer. To establish that the property owner should compensate you for your injuries, you will need to establish that the owner had a duty of care to the public or to you in particular, that his or her actions were not what a reasonable person would do to prevent injuries from occurring, and that the injuries you suffered were directly caused by his or her negligence.
Types of Premises Liability Claims
Slip or Trip and Fall Accidents
One of the most common types of premises liability cases our Bakersfield personal injury attorneys see is the injury caused by a trip or slip resulting in a fall. If the property owner fails to ensure the floors are in good repair, you can easily lose your footing and fall, causing serious injury.
Conditions that can cause a fall injury include:
- Wet or oily floors
- Loose rugs or torn carpets
- Damaged staircases
- Broken or missing tiles in a floor
- Damage to sidewalks
Poor Building Security
Owners of office buildings, hotels, apartment buildings, and other properties have an obligation to provide reasonable security for the building. This may include adequate locks on outside access doors, security guards, or other personnel stationed near the door to ensure only authorized people enter the building. If the owner fails to take reasonable precautions for his or her building and someone comes in and injures you, you may have grounds to expect compensation from the building owner so speak with a Bakersfield premises liability lawyer as soon as possible.
Swimming Pool Accidents
Swimming pools require certain reasonable safety measures to ensure children cannot wander in and drown when the pool is unattended. Fences and locking gates are two examples of reasonable safety measures that you should expect on any pool. For some pools open to the public, it might be reasonable to expect that a lifeguard be on duty or signs be posted to warn users if there is no lifeguard present at the pool. If the pool owners fail to notify those invited to use the pool that no lifeguard is on duty, they may be responsible for injuries suffered by those using the pool.
Dog bites may fall into the area of premises liability when a dog injures a person on the owner’s property, or if the dog escapes the owner’s property. Dog owners have a responsibility to ensure that the dog is secure on the owner’s property, especially if there is a chance the dog may injure someone if allowed to roam free.
Similarly, the owner should make those who come onto the property aware of the presence of a potentially dangerous dog, usually through a “beware of dog” sign or some other warning. If a dog injures someone who wasn’t aware of the danger, the owner may be responsible for injuries.
In a premises liability case, the property owner will likely attempt to prove that the victim was partly responsible for the injury. California law, however, provides for compensation even in the event you were partly to blame for the accident.
As an example, say a building has torn carpet leading up to the stairway. As you approach the stairs, you are looking at your phone and don’t notice the trip hazard that causes you to fall down the stairs. If your case went to trial, the court may determine that your distraction was 10% of the cause of your accident. If your compensation would be $100,000, the court would reduce your compensation by the 10% you are responsible for your accident, leaving you with $90,000.
Insurance companies and corporate attorneys may try to dissuade you from seeking any compensation if they can convince you that you are partly to blame for your injury. However, California law is specifically to protect your rights in cases like these. Even if you may have been partly responsible for your injuries, you have a right to seek compensation from the property owners for their part in your accident.
Proving Fault for Premises Accidents in California
Property Owners Owe a Duty of Care
A property owner has a duty of care to maintain a property in such a way that it is safe for anyone who might use the property. In some cases, the person occupying the property, through rent or lease, may have responsibility for maintaining the property. In such cases, the property owner would have transferred the duty of care. It is likely still necessary to track down the property owner to determine the exact terms of the lease.
This duty of care applies to those invited onto the property, for instance, friends or neighbors invited to your home, or customers invited to enter a business.
Other people are licensed to come onto the property but do so not by invitation, but for their own purposes. Sales clerks are a good example of a licensee who fit into this category. The owner may have a lesser duty to ensure the property is safe for licensees.
An owner may even have a duty of care for trespassers under certain circumstances. If the owner took steps to knowingly cause harm to trespassers, for example by setting traps on the property, the owner may be responsible for trespasser injuries.
Reasonable Care and Maintenance
The property owner must take reasonable precautions to ensure those who come onto the property do not suffer an injury. For example, if the roof in a store began to leak and the owner knowingly took no action to keep people from the potentially slippery floor or warn people of the dangerous footing, they have failed to take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of those entering the property.
However, if the person right in front of you spilled water and you slipped and injured yourself on the now slippery floor, the property owner may not be liable for your injuries. Because the owner had no opportunity to take any action to make the floor safe and may not even have known the spill happened before your accident, the owner could not reasonably take measures to ensure your safety.
Of course, every accident is unique and there may be other circumstances that relate to any case beyond these examples so consult a Bakersfield premises liability attorney about the specifics on your incident.
Injuries Caused by Negligence
In a premises liability claim, you must show that the negligence of the property owner directly caused your injuries. Merely falling down the stairs or slipping on a floor is not sufficient to show a premises liability claim has merit. If a worn rug caused you to trip and fall on the stairs or a problem with the flooring caused you to slip and fall, then you have a reason to expect compensation for your injuries.
It is important to recognize that immediately after your accident, you may not have all the facts to determine whether the negligence of a property owner caused your injuries. You may attribute your accident to clumsiness on your part, not realizing that a defect in the maintenance of the building is what led you to injure yourself. Having an objective party such as a Bakersfield premises liability lawyer examine the evidence of your claim is a good way to learn whether you deserve compensation for your injury.
Compensation for Bakersfield Premises Liability Victims
California law provides for compensation for those injured through the negligence of property owners. You have the right to seek compensation if your injuries were due to someone who has not taken reasonable measures to ensure your safety. Compensation you may seek in a premises liability case includes:
- Medical expenses including doctor bills, hospital expenses, and rehabilitation
- Lost wages due to time missed at work
- Pain and suffering from the injury
- Property loss for damage to personal property in the accident
- Diminished earning capacity in the future
- Loss of enjoyment when your injury prevents you from enjoying recreational activities
- Emotional and mental distress
If your injuries impact your relationship with your spouse, you may seek damages for loss of consortium as well. People typically seek this in cases where the injury affects marital relations between spouses.
If the property owner’s neglect is particularly egregious, you may seek punitive damages as well. These damages punish the person for negligence and deter others from showing such callous disregard for the safety of others.
Rodriguez & Associates | Bakersfield Premises Liability Attorneys
Rodriguez & Associates is conveniently located in downtown Bakersfield, in the oldest free-standing brick building in the county. We are available for weekend and evening appointments, charge no fee for consultations, and speak both English and Spanish. To schedule a free consultation with a premises liability lawyer in Bakersfield, please call (661) 323-1400 or contact us online.