When you visit another person’s home or business, you expect the property to be in a safe condition. According to premises liability law, it is in fact the property owner’s responsibility to ensure their premises are safe for legal tenants and visitors.
As such, property owners must identify and resolve any safety issues or hazards on their premises in a timely manner. Failure to do so may make them responsible for any accidents and injuries that occur due to their negligence.
If you have been injured on someone else’s property, you will need to prove several key elements in order to recover the compensation you deserve. Our San Jose personal injury attorneys discuss these key elements below.
What is Premises Liability?
Premises liability law requires the owners of residential and commercial properties to exercise reasonable care to ensure tenants and visitors are protected from harm while on their property. Failure to keep the property safe for tenants and visitors may result in a “premises liability.”
Premises liability lawsuits commonly involve:
- Animal and dog bites
- Slip and fall accidents
- Negligent or insufficient security
- Swimming pool injuries
- Inadequate maintenance
- Retail store liability
- Restaurant liability
A person who was injured on another’s property—whether it be a residential or commercial property—may be entitled to financial compensation for their damages.
The Key Elements of a Premises Liability Claim
California Code, Civil Code – CIV § 1714 states that: “Everyone is responsible, not only for the result of his or her willful acts, but also for an injury occasioned to another by his or her want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property or person, except so far as the latter has, willfully or by want of ordinary care, brought the injury upon himself or herself.”
In short, property owners are responsible for injuries on their premises that are caused by their own failure to adequately maintain their property, except in cases where the injured individual acted recklessly. This applies to both residential and commercial properties.
In order to establish fault in a premises liability claim, you and your attorney will need to prove the following:
- The property owner or occupier owed the victim a duty of care;
- There were unreasonably dangerous conditions on the property;
- The breach of duty was, at least in part, the cause of the victim’s accident; and
- The victim suffered real harm in the accident.
Are There Any Exceptions to Premises Liability Law?
The protections under premises liability law only apply to certain individuals. In general, visitors fall under three categories: invitees, licensees, or trespassers.
- Invitee: An invitee is a person invited onto a property for commercial purposes. This may be a shopper at a mall or grocery store.
- Licensee: A licensee is a person privileged by proper consent to enter and/or stay on another’s property. This may be a tenant in an apartment complex.
- Trespasser: A trespasser is a person who does not have any right to be on the property.
In most cases, trespassers are not covered under premises liability law and are not able to recover compensation for their injuries. Property owners must simply refrain from intentionally hurting trespassers, such as by setting traps. However, if a property owner knows there is a strong possibility that their premises will attract trespassers, they must give reasonable warnings of non-obvious dangers to trespassers.
Typically, the only exception to this trespasser rule is in the case of child trespassers. Child trespassers may be involved with an “attractive nuisance,” such as an ungated swimming pool. In this situation, there is a higher duty of care required by the property owner.
Recovering Damages Through a Premises Liability Claim
Property hazards can result in catastrophic or even fatal injuries to visitors. Common injuries caused by property hazards include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Injuries requiring amputation
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Severe burns
Such injuries can amount to hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars in medical bills and lost wages for victims. As such, you should be able to recover compensation from the negligent property owner in order to pay for these sudden expenses, rather than paying for them out of your own pocket.
Working with an experienced attorney greatly increases your likelihood of recovering the following damages:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future lost wages
- Pain and suffering
It’s important to remember that, as with most injury claims, there is a time limit in order to file. This is also known as the statute of limitations. In California, premises liability claims have a two-year statute of limitations, in most cases.
Were You Injured on Someone Else’s Property? Contact Us Today
If you have been injured on someone else’s unsafe property, our San Jose premises liability attorneys are here to help. Our experienced attorneys can guide you through the claims process and help you win the compensation that you deserve.
We have achieved millions of dollars in premises liability verdicts and settlements for clients, and we’re prepared to fight for you, too.
Give yourself a fighting chance. Contact Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP today at (800) 900-0863 to schedule a free consultation with our team.