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When you have the right to be on someone else’s property, you should not have to worry about sustaining an injury caused by a hazardous condition. Unfortunately, there are times when property owners fail to uphold their duty of care to others. Here, we want to review some important California premises liability laws you need to know, particularly if you sustain an injury caused by the negligence of a property owner or operator.
Premises liability claims regularly arise throughout the state of California. A premises liability claim is an offshoot of a larger umbrella of personal injury civil lawsuits that individuals file. Essentially, if an individual sustains an injury on another person’s property, they may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against a property owner (a premises liability lawsuit) to recover compensation for their losses.
What sets a premises liability lawsuit apart from a traditional personal injury lawsuit is that the process of determining negligence will revolve mostly around whether or not the property owner upheld their duty of care to the injury victim.
Determining whether or not a property owner was negligent begins with understanding their duty of care. Every property owner owes a duty of care to anyone who has a right to come onto their property. This duty of care will look vastly different depending on the type of property under discussion. For example, a person who owns a piece of land in a rural area and posts copious amounts of “no trespassing” signs is going to have an entirely different duty of care than individuals who operate a department store in the middle of a downtown area.
Several factors need to be examined. First, what is the expectation of who is allowed on a particular property? The owners and operators of stores, government buildings, office buildings, and other areas that expect patrons certainly owe a heightened duty of care to those who enter the property.
However, even private residence owners owe a duty of care to anyone with the right to be there. This includes those invited onto the property as well as others you may not think of, including mailpersons or other delivery drivers, utility workers, etc.
The duty of care owed by a property owner to others generally revolves around ensuring there are no known hazards that could cause harm. This includes conducting regular inspections and maintenance of the property and working to remedy hazards as soon as possible or putting up adequate warning signs if an immediate remedy is not accessible.
If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the careless or negligent actions of a property owner, there is a limited amount of time to file these claims in court. The California personal injury statute of limitations state that individuals must file these claims within two years from the date the injury occurs. Failing to do so will likely result in a dismissal of the case.
There’s no requirement to have an attorney file a premises liability claim against another party. However, these claims are incredibly complicated and require extensive investigation and resources. We encourage you to reach out to an Orange County premises liability lawyer who can help you determine the best steps moving forward. Most attorneys will offer a free consultation so you can gain an understanding of what you need to do without taking any risks.