EDELMAN LAW CENTER | Premise Liability / Slip & Fall

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PREMISE LIABILITY / SLIP & FALL

The moment someone enters your property they have a reasonable expectation of not sustaining an injury or being harmed. This means that as a property owner or a resident that you are responsible for maintaining a basic safe environment. This is called “premises liability”. As an example, a delivery service worker is dropping off a package and they slip and fall on a slick drive or entrance way due to an oil puddle. However, if that same service worker ended up being impaired or acted in an unsafe way then the claim may not be legitimate. The legality of premises liability holds property owners and residents responsible or liable for accidents and injuries that happened on the property. There are many incidents that can result in premises liability claims.

Where could a slip & fall case happen?

  • Warehouse Stores
  • Malls
  • Hotels & Inns
  • Shopping Center
  • Parking Lots
  • Side Walks
  • Sports Arenas & Stadiums
  • Movie Theaters
  • Playgrounds
  • Amusment & Theme Parks

Personal injury cases that can be identified as premises liability cases span a great range. Slip and fall cases, inadequate maintenance of the premises, elevator and escalator accidents are only a few. Ice and snow accidents, dog bites, swimming pool accidents, fires, water leaks, flooding, defective conditions within the premises, amusement park accidents, toxic chemicals, and defective building security leading to assault or injury all fall under premises liability case options.

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Determining liability comes from the laws and procedures of the actual state in which the harm or injury took place. In certain states, the court will hone in on the status of the injured visitor in ruminating on factors of liability. Other states will focus on the condition of the property and the actions of both the owner and visitor while on the property. It is necessary to note that an occupier of land, such as a renter or tenant is treated in the same manner as the actual landowner in most situations.

MAIN CLASSIFICATIONS OF PREMISE LIABILITY

INVITEE  – An invitee is any individual whom the property owner invites and allows onto the property for the owner’s commercial benefit or for a business dealings purpose. The actual invitation can be either expressed or implied. For example, a grocery shopper is an invitee because the grocery store openly invites the general public to come and shop within the store. The owner of the premises holds a tall duty to care for the invitee. An invitee is an individual who has the owner of the premises’ permission to enter the property. This permission can be directly expressed or implied. Invitees are often relatives, friends, and neighbors. The landowner is traditionally held responsible for the safety of the invitee.

LICENSEE – The licensee is one that enters a property for their own purpose or as a guest and is allowed due to the consent of the owner. A trespasser is one that enters the premises without any right at all to be on the premises. With cases that deal with licensees and trespassers, there is no implied guarantee that reasonable care has been made to assure the safety of the premises. In many states, consideration is given to the condition of the property and both the activities of the owner and visitor. Deciding whether the standard of reasonableness required by an owner towards the licensees has been met, demands an examination of multiple factors. It will be important to know under which circumstance the visitor entered the store or property. How the property is supposed to be generally used is another factor. They will look at if there was any foreseeability of the accident or injury that took place. Also, it will be needed to examine the reasonableness of the owner or tenant’s effort to repair the hazardous condition or did they actual warn visitors. Trespassers on property grounds has a few conditions to monitor as well.

TRESPASSERS – Focusing on trespassers, if the owner knows it is highly likely trespassers will set foot on the property, then he or she may be charged with a duty to give reasonable warning about the dangers on the property (enter at one’s own risk). This really only applies when dealing with artificial conditions that the owner has made or maintains and they know that the possibility of injury or death could occur. Often the court’s decision will come down to “comparative fault”. When both parties had some fault in the accident that took place or the injury sustained then it is known as “comparative fault”. Many times, the owner or processor’s argument will express that the injured individual was at least partially at fault for the incident. The visitor has a duty in most cases to act with reasonable care for their own personal safety. If that care is not exercised in the proper manner than the plaintiff’s compensation and recovery may be reduced or limited due to their own negligence. Most states use a “comparative fault” system for personal injury cases. This basically means that both parties were somewhat at fault and they will decide compensation due to which party was more at fault. For example, if the plaintiff slipped and fell and the owner proves that the plaintiff was partially responsible for the accident then the plaintiff’s compensation would be that percentage less. If they were thirty percent at fault than the defendant would now owe thirty percent less in damages.

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In most cases the owner or operator cannot be responsible for a non-related third party’s part in an injury. However, California has expanded the law so that the owner can be held responsible for failing to control negative third party behavior that is expected due to the history, nature and location of the premises. One example of this maybe that there has been a history of assault or violence at a particular night club in a particular area of town. The owner should have some reasonable amount of safety precautions or security to aid and keep their patrons and customers safe. If one’s injury could have been avoided or minimized with adequate security, it is important to get legal counsel immediately and to determine whether compensation is available. When trying to prove that the security measures at a specific establishment were at fault it is important to remember the details of the incident. Were there any security or surveillance cameras around the area? Were security measures apparent. For instance, were there locks, gates, fences or such in place at the time of the accident. Was visibility good, was the area well lit? Did you or others go through a security check and was there security guards within the area? Also, were there enough employees to handle the number of people within the event or space? Answering no to any of these questions means you should seek legal counsel and contact one of our experienced premise liability lawyers. Our lawyers will let you know your rights as the victim and help determine if the incident and circumstances surrounding it merit compensation.

The government is protected from liability to a much larger extent than private cases. This is no exception in the state of California. The government code section 835 states that the plaintiff must show one of two specific things. One, that a public employee was negligent to create the dangerous condition. Or the other option is that the public entity noticed the dangerous condition and had enough time to prevent the injury to themselves. For instance, if someone who is not a public employee creates a dangerous condition upon government property the government is shielded much from liability unless the plaintiff can show that the government was notified and did nothing to fix the condition within a reasonable amount of reaction time.

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Here at Legal Help Law Group we are prepared to answer any legal questions you may have concerning your case. We offer completely free and confidential legal consultation and case evaluation from one of our trusted California personal injury lawyers. Schedule your consultation by calling toll free: 844-HURT-411

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