ORANGE COUNTY PREMISES LIABILITY ATTORNEY
Property owners and operators have a duty of care to those on their premises. This includes awareness of neighborhood guidelines, maintaining, and dealing with known dangers. If organizations or property owners neglect to stay aware of these guidelines and maintain their property, it can lead to serious injuries. In addition, any injury can result in a claim, you need the legal help of our Orange County premises liability attorneys.
California law holds property owners responsible for injury accidents occurring on their premises. However, there are many causes of premises liability injuries, such as unsafe walkways, fires, and poor security. Any injury can result in a claim, including sprained ankles, broken bones, burns, and inhalation of toxic chemicals.
Not all accidents result in premises liability. For a legal claim to exist, the plaintiff must establish negligence on the owner’s part. In most cases, this means proving that the owner neglected to fix or warn against a hazard. Many accident victims wonder if their case qualifies for a premises liability claim. To answer that question, we need to define further premises liability and what the law entails explicitly.
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What Is Premises Liability?
Premises liability laws assign responsibility to property owners for certain personal injuries. For premises liability to apply, the accident must have occurred because of negligence on the owner’s part. Negligence results from the owner failing to fix a dangerous situation, taking proper action to protect people or issuing an adequate warning.
For instance, a supermarket must ensure that no hazards exist that could cause shoppers to slip and fall. If a hazard is created, it must issue a proper warning. A floor wet from mopping serves as a common example. Leaving the floor wet in the path of customers results in liability for the owner. Accordingly, businesses have policies requiring employees to post wet floor signs around recently mopped areas.
On the other hand, a property owner is not liable for an injury if there is no negligence. For example, a slip and fall on a wet floor is negligence, but, barring some other factor, a person tripping on their shoelace establishes no premises liability.
In some cases, injuries occurring off-premises may apply. For example, pet owners are responsible for dog bites, whether the incident occurred on their property or elsewhere. Additionally, California dog owners are responsible for a bite regardless of whether the dog bit before or has a history of viciousness. Finally, the law assumes neglect on the part of the owner if the animal bites.
However, defendants can overcome an accusation or assumption of neglect in certain circumstances. For example, in the case of a dog bite, the owner avoids liability if the injured party provoked the dog. In addition, people bitten by a dog during the commission of most crimes are barred from bringing a dog bite case against the owner. Typically, these exceptions apply to trespassing, burglary, or assault cases.
Damages Are Based on Comparative Negligence
In California, personal injury cases usually result in a settlement or award based on splitting the liability pie between the parties. This occurs because California is a pure comparative negligence state. Pure comparative negligence assigns each party a percentage of the liability. Accordingly, courts award the injured parties their damages minus their percentage of the liability.
Plaintiffs receive a portion of the liability from 0% to 100%. A 0% finding means the plaintiff receives 100% of the damages. However, each percentage of increased liability decreases the award proportionately, so if a plaintiff is 25% responsible, the award is reduced by 25%. Because California law is pure comparative negligence, the plaintiff receives an award even if 99% liable, though the amount is just 1% of damages.
For instance, in a premises liability case where a customer slipped at a store, comparative negligence hinges on how much the court believes the store’s negligence played in the accident and how much the plaintiff’s negligence resulted in the fall. On the other hand, a case where someone slips on unattended liquid usually results in most or all of the liability rests with the store.
However, if the defense can show that the plaintiff contributed to the accident by not noticing a warning sign, it may convince the court to reduce the damages. On the other hand, if the defendant fails to prove any negligence on the part of the store, the court will dismiss the case.
Proving Negligence in Premises Liability Claims
California law holds the owner of premises, whether a business, residence or government facility, is responsible for personal injuries occurring on the property. But liability is inapplicable in some instances. No presumption of liability exists. Therefore, the plaintiff must prove negligence for a court to award damages.
California property owners must foresee, recognize and resolve potential safety hazards. When they cannot be resolved immediately, owners must provide sufficient warnings. Anyone legitimately on the premises is covered by premises liability, including visitors, tenants, and guests.
In personal injury law, ” premises ” refers to a place, parcel of land, or structure owned, leased, or legally occupied. Ultimate responsibility falls on the owner of a property, including landlords, business owners, homeowners, and governments. To win a premises liability claim, the injured party must prove three key elements:
- The owner’s actions resulted in the injury (intentional or unintentional)
- The owner knew or should have known that the dangerous condition existed and failed to take action the prevent an accident.
- The eligible dangerous condition resulted in the injury.
It is an insufficient defense for property owners to claim that they were unaware of a hazardous condition. California law presupposes that property owners must regularly inspect their premises. Failure to do so constitutes an act of negligence.
For instance, a homeowner must inspect an unattached garage, even if unused. However, should a defect in the door cause it to injure someone, the homeowner cannot evade liability by claiming he was unaware of the problem because the garage was in disuse.
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Types of Premises Liability
Our lawyers at Orange County handle all types of premises liability claims, such as the following:
- Slip and fall cases
- Dangerous stairways, steps, or platforms
- Malfunction of elevators or escalators
- Preventable fires
- Chemical spills
- Hazardous fumes
- Dog bites
- Inadequate security
- Poor maintenance
- Unsafe swimming pools
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Do I Need a Lawyer For a Premises Liability Claim?
You almost always need an attorney for a premises liability claim in California. Unless the injury was minor and you wish to refrain from pressing a legal claim, you will need an attorney.
Insurance companies pay most premises liability claims. As a result, plaintiffs are up against a big corporation with deep pockets. The insurance business model incentivizes these companies to reduce claims payouts as much as possible, even denying valid claims if they believe the plaintiff won’t take the case to court.
As a result, without a big legal gun on your side, you will likely receive no compensation or a settlement offer worth much less than the value of the claim in court.
Attorneys Gather the Evidence to Prove Your Case
Insurance companies may deny a claim, claiming it is unsubstantiated. This is often a trick played by claims adjusters hoping that the plaintiff will feel intimidated about collecting evidence and appealing the denial or feel it is not worth the time.
An Orange County premises lawyer defeats this insurance company tactic by collecting the evidence needed to prove negligence against the owner. With the evidence in hand, your lawyer can appeal a claim’s denial and file a lawsuit against the insurer in court. In some cases, the threat of a lawsuit compels an early settlement, but many cases require plaintiffs to file a protest in court to receive just compensation.
Attorneys Use Discovery to Bolster Claims
Once a complaint is filed in court, the discovery process begins. During this phase of litigation, attorneys on both sides have legal entitlements to collect relevant evidence, such as medical reports and expert witness opinions.
In addition, they can question the opposing side’s witnesses through interrogatories (written questions) and depositions (face-to-face questioning under oath and with a court reporter).
Most often, discovery works to the benefit of the plaintiff. As more evidence is entered into the record, the plaintiff’s claim becomes stronger. As a result, many insurance companies feel pressured to settle during the discovery phase.
Attorneys Negotiate a Settlement
Most premises liability cases settle before the trial date. Instead, they settle because the plaintiff has the proof needed to win before a jury. Insurers know they only increase expenses by dragging a losing case before a jury.
Despite the prospect of losing, premises liability defendants still have a trump card. California is a pure comparative negligence state. According to this legal doctrine, both the injured party and the responsible party can be found partially at fault. If a jury determines some blame resides with the plaintiff, it reduces the award by the percentage of negligence it believes the plaintiff contributed to the accident.
For instance, a premises liability plaintiff may have slipped on a cracked sidewalk leading to a business’s entrance. The defense may counter that some of the faults for the accident rested with the plaintiff because of an untied shoelace. Most likely, the plaintiff tripped due to poor footing and deserves total compensation. However, the defense may use the untied shoelace to claim that the accident is only 50% the fault of the premises owner, thus reducing damages by 50%.
Your premises liability lawyer fights back against these hardball negotiation tactics and demands total compensation for all related injuries. In most cases, the defense eventually offers a reasonable settlement to avoid losing at trial.
Trials and Appeals
Nonetheless, the defense sometimes remains obstinate and refuses to offer an acceptable settlement. In that case, your lawyer prepares your case for trial and persuades a jury of the defendant’s liability. In addition, your attorney handles any appeals.
Contact a Top-Rated Orange County Premises Liability Lawyer Today
Nordean Law premises liability attorneys Orange County fight insurance companies to win full compensation for personal injury victims. Contact Nordean Law for a free consultation.
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Orange County Premises Liability Lawyer
PREMISES LIABILITY LAWYER NEAR ORANGE COUNTY, CA
Hiring the right Premises Liability Attorney will make a huge positive difference in this unfortunate and difficult part of your life. You can spend countless hours at the Orange County Courthouse trying to piece together what you need to do next on your own. By not hiring an attorney, you are throwing countless hours out the window, you will also get on average 40% less when the settlement finally comes around, which will happen much faster with professional help.
It’s free to talk with us, please reach out if you have any questions or would like an estimate of what you could be owed. In California, you have up to two years to file a claim and sue for compensation. If you wish to take this court journey alone, Orange County Courthouse is located at 700 W Civic Center Dr, Santa Ana, CA 92701.
If you want to take professional help, our Premises Liability Accident Lawyer in Orange County will be more than happy to help you.
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Orange County Premises Liability FAQs
Who is Responsible for Premises Liability Cases?
The property owner has responsibility in premises liability cases. In most instances, the owner has insurance that covers these types of claims. In that circumstance, the insurance company becomes responsible for payment and defends the lawsuit.
Who Can I Sue if I’m Injured on Someone Else’s Property in California?
Any property owner has premises liability when someone is injured on their property. For example, the homeowner has responsibility for injuries at a residence, landlords at apartment buildings, and businesses in commercial places.
When May a Person File an Appeal?
After a personal injury trial, a losing party can file an appeal. The appeal is heard before a panel of appellate judges. Appeals panels do not retry cases. Instead, the jury alone decides which side to believe. Appellate courts overturn cases where the trial court erred on points of law, such as the admission or exclusion of evidence.
What Is the Difference Between Premises Liability and Negligence?
Premises liability is the legal concept that gives rise to personal injury suits against property owners. Negligence is what the plaintiff must prove to prevail in a premises liability case. Without negligence on the part of the owner, no premises liability exists.
How Much Is My Premises Liability Case Worth?
Premises liability claims can be worth anywhere from a few thousand to millions of dollars. For example, a claim against a supermarket for a slip and fall may be worth $5,000 for medical bills and $10,000 for pain and suffering. On the other hand, a case where a child drowned in an unsecured pool may yield an award of over $1 million.
How Long Will It Take To Resolve My Case?
Most cases settle within 1-2 years, but trial cases can take significantly longer, especially if they exhaust the appeals process.
What Is the Statute of Limitations On-Premises Liability In California?
With few exceptions, premises liability cases must be filed within two years of the incident.
How Much Does a Premises Liability Lawyer Cost In Orange County, CA?
Premises liability lawyers work on contingency. Under a contingency fee agreement, lawyers collect nothing upfront, and clients pay nothing out of pocket. Plaintiffs pay only when a settlement or award is collected.