Accidents that happen in or on property owned by another party are governed by a legal concept that is known as premises liability. In its essential terms, the legal doctrine of premises liability makes a person in control of real property, whether the interior or exterior of a location, responsible for accidents that occur under certain circumstances.
When it comes to a premise accident, perhaps the most common type of mishap that comes to a person’s mind is a slip and fall incident. The idea of a person slipping and falling in a grocery store, for example, is the stuff not only of television and motion picture pratfalls, but of innumerable insurance claims and lawsuits each year in San Diego and across the commonwealth of California.
Physical Defects at the Premises
The category of cases involving premises accidents with the most commonly occurring incidents can be categorized as defects at the property. Defects can come in the form of everything from wet floors to improperly secured flooring material. These types of defects associated with the ground or floor more often than not result in slip and fall accidents.
Slip and fall accidents can result in a myriad of injuries. These include broken bones, spinal injuries, and traumatic brain injury.
Other defects can include sharp objects inappropriately projecting from a surface at a premise. These types of hazards tend to give rise to accidents that result in a person suffering for lacerations and puncture wounds.
Other Hazards at Premises
In some instances, hazards at a premise are not associated with a physical defect of some sort at the property. In some cases, the dangerous hazard at a premise is something that is not associated with anything physical. For example, in some cases, the lack of appropriate security at a premise can subject a visitor to the property to an inappropriate risk.
An example of an inappropriate lack of security can include a premise like an otherwise popular and well-attended nightclub. The mixture of drinking with large gatherings of people in a commercial setting is a mix that can lead to potentially dangerous situations that call out for appropriate security onsite.
Establishing Premises Liability
Establishing the responsibility of another party for an injury at a premise of some type is best undertaken with the professional assistance of a skilled San Diego premise accident lawyer. With that noted, there are three general elements that must be established if a person wishes to proceed with a claim for injuries based on the doctrine of premises liability.
The party an injured person desires to make a claim against must actually possess or control the premises. Establishing control is not always a black and white matter. Nor is control necessarily limited to one party.
A grocery market provides a useful example to explain the element of control in a premise accident case. Imagine water spilled on the floor of the market that is not tended to in a reasonable period of time. A patron of the market slips, falls.
A claim for compensation can likely be made against the owner of the store. However, if the owner of the store rents the premises, the landlord is not going to be a responsible party in an interior slip and fall case caused by spilled water.
The next element in a premise accident case involves who the injured person is on the property in the first place. If the injured person is a business invitee, that individual is in a position to make a claim for injuries. A prime example is a customer in a store or restaurant.
The final overall element is the demonstration of negligence on the part of the party that controls the premises. Establishing negligence requires the satisfaction of four requirements associated with what is known as tort law in the United States.
The Elements of Negligence
In establishing negligence of a responsible party in a premise accident case, a duty of care must exist. For example, a store owner has a duty to keep a floor clear of a hazardous condition.
A demonstration must be made that a duty of care was breached. In the case of a slip and fall incident in a store, the duty of care is breached if the store owner fails to tend to spilled water on the floor in a timely manner.
Proximate cause must also be demonstrated. Proximate cause means that the conduct of the party in control of the premises, or the lack of action, is the legal cause of the accident and the injuries sustained by an individual.
Finally, the individual attempting to make a claim for compensation in premise accident case must have suffered real damages, losses, or injuries. Losses cannot be merely speculative.
Compensation in a Premise Accident Case
Compensation in premise accident case depends largely on the specific facts and circumstances of the accident itself. With that noted, there are certain damages, losses, and injuries that typically result in compensation in premise accident case that include:
- pain and suffering
- psychological injury
- medical bills and expenses
- permanent disability
- permanent disfigurement
- lost wages
A premise accident attorney will strive to ensure that an injured individual obtains compensation not only for existing damages, losses, and injuries, but also for those reasonable expected to be incurred in the future. For example, an injured person may face the prospect of ongoing medical care and treatment, including physical therapy, into the indefinite future. This type of expense is compensable.
Retain an Experienced San Diego Premise Accident Attorney
The first step in retaining the professional services of a San Diego premise accident lawyer is scheduling what is known as an initial consultation. An initial consultation provides a personal injury lawyer the ability to evaluate a case and respond to questions from an injured person. As a general rule, no legal fee is charged for an initial consultation between an injured person and a San Diego personal injury lawyer in a premise accident case.