Los Angeles Premises Liability Lawyers
Whenever an individual suffers harm while on another party’s property, the question of whether a premises liability attorney is needed is certain to arise. Premises liability is a category of personal injury litigation in which the Ellis Law firm has successfully represented clients for over two decades.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries while on another’s property, it is essential that you secure the help of a talented Los Angeles personal injury lawyer. We are prepared to advocate for your rights and fight tirelessly to get you the financial resources necessary to heal.
Fundamentals of premises liability law in California
The concept of premises liability stipulates that “the owner of the premises is under a duty to exercise ordinary care in the management of such premises in order to avoid exposing persons to an unreasonable risk of harm. A failure to fulfill this duty is negligence.”
In essence, these actions are like all other negligence actions, in that plaintiffs must establish that the defendant had a duty of care, a breach of that duty was committed, and that the breach caused the injuries suffered by the plaintiff.
In California, a landowner, occupier or lesser may be held legally responsible for any injuries that occur on their premises if it can be proven that the individual or entity failed to use reasonable care to keep the property safe for visitors, guests, invitees, and patrons. Or if it can be established that the defendant failed to take reasonable precautions to discover any dangerous conditions on their grounds that needed to be repaired.
Property owners are expected to perform some degree of routine maintenance and inspections to ensure there is no foreseeable risk of injury. In the event that the potential hazard is not addressed, the property owner or possessor would need to provide sufficient warning of its existence to those who legally enter their premises. Those who trespass, or enter the property uninvited and without legal cause, are not afforded these same protections.
In deciding whether the defendant exercised ‘reasonable care’ in a premises liability lawsuit, the courts would evaluate the following facts:
- The property location
- The defendant’s possession or control over the premises
- The probable seriousness of harm
- Whether the defendant knew or should have been aware of a condition that produced an unreasonable risk of injury
- The feasibility of protecting against the risk of such injury
- The extent of the defendant’s control over the hazard that created a risk of injury
Consider the following scenario. You fall after slipping on a spilled beverage in the supermarket and fracture your wrist. Surveillance footage shows that another patron dropped the bottle just minutes before your accident, meaning that employees did not have time to notice the spill or take measures to clean and remedy the condition. In this case, the court would likely rule that the defendant did not have control or notice over the condition that caused your injury. However, if evidence indicated that the spill was left unnoticed and ignored for an unreasonable period of time, legal action would be justified. Of course, video footage, witness testimony, and photographs will all play critical roles in determining how long a dangerous condition existed.
In California, employers can be held legally responsible for the negligent actions of their staff within the scope of their employment that result in harm. If a store clerk fails to mop up a spill they witness or warn guests of its presence, their employer may be vicariously liable for any injuries that this behavior causes.
In terms of proving each of these critical elements, there is no better ally to have on your side than an experienced, knowledgeable premises liability lawyer from Ellis Law.
Types of premises liability claims we handle
It is not uncommon to think primarily of slip and fall accidents when the topic of premises liability is mentioned. Cracked walkways, loose handrails, icy porch steps, and similar hazards may come to mind.
However, premises liability covers an extensive range of situations and injury claims. The attorneys at Ellis Law have the legal acumen to handle complex cases involving:
- Construction site accidents
- Dog bites
- Sidewalk falls
- Elevator and escalator accidents
- Electrical injuries
- Nightclub assaults
- Negligent security
- Amusement park and waterpark accidents
- Swimming pool mishaps
- Recreational and sporting event injuries
- Scaffolding injuries
California premises liability lawsuit
In terms of assessing liability in these types of personal injury lawsuits, the elements of possession, ownership, and control are paramount. Furthermore, the existence of a duty on the part of a possessor of real property will depend heavily on a series of case-specific factors. There is a general duty to keep premises safe in order to prevent injuries, but the parameters of that duty can vary based on the type of property in question.
A failure to warn about or repair dangerous, hidden defects can give rise to liability if injuries result. Store owners have a duty to make continuous inspection of their premises and perform all repairs necessary to ensure the safety of patrons. There are also situations in which a property owner will be held responsible for failing to safeguard visitors from the foreseeable actions of third parties that could result in harm. Every fact pattern has its own unique details, and the attorneys at Ellis Law have the background and resources necessary to get to the truth and fight for justice.
As any successful attorney will attest, comprehensive evidence is vital. Photographic or video evidence of the dangerous conditions leading to the injuries sustained, witness statements, incident reports taken soon after the event, medical records, and other types of supporting material are necessary in order to secure the type of recovery your injuries may warrant. Because Ellis Law has spent years assembling a network of diligent investigators, experts, and support staff, our team’s ability to present compelling legal arguments on your behalf is second to none.
Thorough investigations will determine potential defendants in a premises liability claim. This may include:
- Business owners
- Parent company
- Property management firm
- Government or municipal entity
- Employees of the property owner
Defenses to premises liability claims
California imposes substantial responsibility on residential and commercial property owners in order to keep their premises safe. However, landowners, lessors, and occupiers of property may raise the following arguments to avoid liability in a slip and fall or premises liability lawsuit:
- The hazard or dangerous condition was “open and obvious” to any reasonable person
- The plaintiff was distracted and therefore did not take heed of the danger
- Misuse of the property led to the person’s injury
- The plaintiff was aware of the unsafe condition before they were hurt
- The accident resulted from a trivial defect on the property
Time limits for taking legal action
For most premises liability claims in California, the injured person has exactly two years from the date of the injury to take legal action. A premises liability case will be dismissed if the plaintiff files the case outside this statute of limitations, meaning there is no possibility for financial recovery.
If the defendant is a government or municipal entity, the deadline is even shorter, since a notice of claim must be filed within 6 months of the injury. If the plaintiff is under the age of 18 at the time of injury, the deadline is tolled until their 18th birthday. As with any legal matter, the best way to protect your rights is by seeking competent legal counsel as quickly as possible.
Common injuries in LA premises liability cases
Given that these cases can take innumerable forms, the injuries that can give rise to valid claims are extremely varied in nature. Ranging from temporarily inconvenient to truly debilitating or even fatal, some of the more common injuries suffered by victims include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Sprains and bone fractures
- Cuts and bruises
- Shoulder dislocations
- Back and spinal cord injury
- Muscle strains
- Soft tissue damage
The above injuries frequently bring with them substantial medical bills and other expenses that can prove ruinous for victims and their families.
California law affords the injured an opportunity to receive compensation for:
- Present and future medical expenses
- Cost of physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Permanent disability
If unexpected harm suddenly befalls you or someone you love while on someone else’s property, you have nothing to lose and potentially a great deal to gain by consulting with our skilled legal team.
At Ellis Law, we understand the full spectrum of emotions you are likely experiencing, including fear, anger, doubt and anxiety, and pledge to provide you with an unsurpassed level of personal attention at every stage of your case.
Steps to take after injury on another’s property
No one expects to be harmed on a weekend shopping trip, or while dining out, or visiting a friend’s home. When the unthinkable happens and serious injury results, there are a few steps you can take to protect your rights.
- Insist that the property owner is made aware of the accident
- Insist that an official written report of the accident is made
- Get the names and contact information of any persons who either witnessed or were involved in the accident
- If you are able to, take photos and video of the accident scene and surrounding area
- Seek prompt medical attention to have your injuries evaluated
- Keep the clothing and shoes you were wearing when the injury happened
- Decline giving statements to insurance adjusters without first speaking to a lawyer
- Do not assign or accept blame
- Consult an attorney before signing any documents
Ellis Law attorneys have the resources to help you document the extent of your injuries and collect compelling evidence to advance your case. We take care of all the legal details, so you can focus on your recovery.
Consult with Los Angeles premises liability lawyers
Suffering physical harm while on another’s property is invariably a shocking, aggravating experience. At Ellis Law, we realize that you need to be made whole, not just financially, but emotionally as well. To begin the healing process and receive a free, no-obligation consultation, call us today. We look forward to assessing the facts of your case and helping you identify your legal options.