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What is Premises Liability?

| Apr 4, 2015 | Firm News

Under California law property owners are required to maintain the land in which they possess or control in a “reasonably safe condition.” Thus, a property owner may be held liable for the injuries which occur as a result of dangerous conditions on their property. This is what is known as “premises liability.” Landowners are responsible for their premises and failure to take care of these premises can create liability.

Under premises liability are a number of specific duties that each property owner must meet; the outcome of these duties may result in liability if someone is injured by failure to maintain a safe property. Therefore if you have been injured on the premises of another person, examine the following duties to understand if you have a valid lawsuit for premises liability.

(1)    Basic Duty – Ordinary Care

A basic premises liability lawsuit claims that the property was dangerous and the owner failed to take reasonable steps to prevent, repair or warn about the danger. In order to prove that a duty existed the injured party must allege that the property owner did not act as a reasonable person would have. The key question to ask is, would an average person have treated the dangerous condition in the same manner.

(2)    Duty to Warn

Landowners have a duty to warn persons coming onto their property of any hidden or concealed dangers. For instance, if you owned a large track of land behind your house, and you converted this land into a dirt-bike racing track, then you would have a duty to warn those who may come onto your land about the dangers of this track. This warning must be adequate enough to allow a person to be able to understand the potential harm and avoid this harm.

(3)     Duty toward Property

California law treats damage to property similar to personal injuries. Thus, property owners owe a duty to the persons on their land and the property of these persons.  For example, if a person came to visit your house and they parked their car in your driveway, and then you decided to cut down a tree in your front yard, and then that tree fell on their car, you may be liable. The key is that they liability extends to persons and property.

(4)    Duty to Workers

If the land is being used as a workplace, then the owner must supply a reasonably safe workplace. Providing a safe workplace includes warning of danger, removing foreseeable dangers, inspecting the land at regular intervals, and much more; all to ensure the workplace is safe under the law.

(5)    Duty to Equipment/Particular Areas

If the landowner is providing equipment as part of a work site, or if there are special areas on the premises, then the property owner may be held liable for the dangers of these areas. For example if you have a stairway on your property and a step is missing from the stairs, then this may create liability if a guest fell down the stairs and was injured.

This list is a partial list of the duties a property owner owes. For more information click here.  If you have been injured as the result of a property owner’s negligence, please consult with the premises liability attorneys at Martinez & Schill LLP to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. We work with clients throughout Southern California. There is no cost to you unless and until we win your case. Call 619-512-5995 for our San Diego Office or 951-200-4630 for Riverside.