Residential and Business Premises Liability

Residential and business properties are subject to maintaining a standard of safety for visitors. Lawsuits can occur when a case can be reasonably demonstrated to have been the cause of the negligence, carelessness, or mismanagement of the property by the owner. Under California law, there is a criteria of four elements that must be shown to have been present in order to pursue a premises liability case because these four elements demonstrate the negligence or carelessness of the property owner or manager: duty to maintain a safe environment for visitors, breach of that duty, injury to the visitor as a result of that breach of duty, and direct causation between the events.

Scenarios that can lead to premises liability lawsuits on residential and business properties include:

  • Slip and fall
  • Inadequate security
  • Negligent security
  • Sexual assault
  • Building code violations
  • Commercial property defects
  • Parking lot accidents
Burden of Duty in Residential and Business Premises Liability

Premises liability incidents can occur on both residential and commercial properties. The burden of duty for these properties varies, however. For example, a homeowner who rarely invites over guests has a much different level of duty and liability than, say, a convenience store owner who constantly invites ‘guests’ onto their property in the form of customers. All property owners or managers are bound by the legal concept of reasonable knowledge of their property and then making appropriate repairs or warnings as needed. Business owners, amusement park managers, and other such business professionals are bound by the liability to maintain a safe environment for their guests, through routine inspection, prevention, and maintenance to their buildings and property.

Trespassers, in most cases, are unable to bring forth premises liability lawsuits against property owners due to the illegal nature of their presence on the property. However, a few exceptions apply. If a property owner deliberately establishes a harmful environment on their property, with the explicit knowledge that a trespasser could be injured upon gaining entrance to their property, then that person could be deemed liable for the resulting injuries.

Premises Law in California

Standards of duty in premises liability law under California legal codes are subject to the definitions of negligence and ordinary care, which vary based on type of property. Amusement park owners and managers are subject to maintaining a safe property, which includes ensuring the safety of their rides, building structures, and so on. A store operator’s liability extends to such factors as maintaining an environment within their building that prevents such hazardous conditions as slip and fall accidents. Homeowners, while still being held to standards of legal liability, have the lowest level of legal duty because their properties are not open to the general public. Their duty lies in reasonable knowledge of potential hazardous conditions and negating those conditions through fixing them or warning against them, but their duty is not as strict as those who operate businesses. Business owners and managers are expected to conduct regular inspections of their property, thereby allowing for the greatest level of knowledge of potential issues to visitors.

Any property owner who neglects to keep up their property in a reasonably safe condition can be liable for injuries sustained while there.

Under some conditions, the fault may rest with a party other than the property owner or manager. The liability can be the result of more than one at-fault party. This is one of the factors that will be determined when reviewing and investigating a premises liability case. For example, if a property owner fails to maintain a clean environment and therefore creates a slippery flooring surface, they could be liable for a slip and fall accident in their business. However, if the manufacturer of the linoleum flooring was negligent in the design or construction of their materials and that also led to an uneven flooring surface in the business, there is then cause for multiple party liability in this hypothesized slip and fall case.

How an Attorney can Help You

Residential and business premises liability lawsuits can be awfully tricky. What parties are liable, how many parties are liable, and establishing the evidence for cause and effect can quickly feel overwhelming. Our lawyers are experienced in handling difficult cases and can make the process as stress-free as possible for you.

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