San Jose Premises Liability Attorney
A premises liability claim can arise after an accident that injures a property visitor. While not every accident leads to a lawsuit, those that stem from property owner negligence might. California has laws in place that grant injured parties the right to pursue financial compensation after an accident that occurs due to a property hazard or defect. After a slip and fall, elevator/escalator accident, parking lot fender bender, ice/snow accident, staircase fall, or criminal attack on public or private property in San Jose or the Bay Area, come to the premises liability attorneys at Henshaw & Henry, PC for legal advice.
What Was Your Classification as a Property Visitor?
The main question in a premises liability claim is whether or not the owner of the property used and maintained it according to his or her duties of care. The injured party must establish the property owner’s negligence, or breach of duty. Property owners owe different standards of care to other people depending on the status of the visitor. Visitors can fall under one of three classifications:
- Invitees. Invitees are people the property owner invites onto the property for the owner’s purposes, therefore, they can expect the highest standards of care. Shoppers at a grocery store are invitees, as are invited guests at a pool party. Property owners owe invitees a duty to repair known hazards, warn of potential hazards, and search for unknown hazards before welcoming visitors onto the premises.
- Licensees. These are people invited to enter a property, but for their own reasons (e.g., a door-to-door salesperson). Property owners do not owe licensees as many duties of care as invitees. Licensees may expect the duty to keep a property defect-free and to warn of known risks, but not the duty to search for unknown hazards.
- Trespasser. Trespassers are on a property without the express or implied permission of the owner. They are people the owner does not want on the premises. Property owners do not owe any duties of care to trespassers. Property owners must not intentionally cause them harm. If the trespasser is a child, however, the same duties as to invitees apply.
Duties of care can vary depending on the circumstances of the case. You might have a premises liability claim if you or a loved one suffered damages in accidents because of dangerous swimming pools, trip and fall hazards, negligent security, dog bites or animal attacks, faulty staircases, uneven curbs, cracked sidewalks, or blocked exits. It is worthwhile to speak to a San Jose premises liability attorney after any type of accident on someone else’s property. It may surprise you to find that you are eligible for significant monetary compensation.
Types of Premises Liability Accidents
Many different kinds of accidents fall under premises liability. Though a fall on a city sidewalk or slip in a grocery store may seem like your fault, such incidents may not have occurred without the negligence of another party. To know if your San Jose injury or damages could mean compensation, discuss your case with one of our qualified attorneys.
Some of the types of cases that may be eligible for compensation include:
- Slip and fall accidents. Broken staircases, icy surfaces, unattended spills, and other dangerous surfaces can cause these types of accidents.
- Inadequate security. A property owner’s failure to maintain proper lighting and other security features can put individuals at risk for crimes such as assault, robbery, or rape.
- Amusement park injuries. Mechanical malfunctions and staff failure to enforce safety measures can lead to serious or fatal injuries from falling.
- Swimming pool accidents. A lack of supervision can lead to a swimmer to drowning or a near drowning experience. Faulty pipes, drains, and other pool equipment are also risk factors.
- Dog bites. A dog bite is the responsibility of its owner. These injuries fall under premises liability as they are often covered by homeowners insurance.
- Explosions can result in painful burns and other injuries that require medical treatment, which is often intensive and expensive. Common causes of explosions include gas leaks, propane tank explosions, and volatile chemical mixtures.
- Electrical injuries – Electrical injuries can be serious or even fatal in some cases. These injuries can result from exposure to faulty machinery, loose wires, and other electrical sources.
- Playground accidents. Parks, schools, and other property owners can be liable for playground injuries due to improper supervision or failure to maintain playground equipment.
- Golf resort injuries. Golfers can be at risk for injury due to poor course design, management failure to maintain the green, and even being hit by a club or ball. Golf carts can cause their own range of serious injuries, from tipping over or mechanical malfunctions. Negligent cart drivers may cause injury by stopping or starting as someone boards or even stopping and starting too quickly.
Can You File a Claim if You Suffered an Injury on Government Property?
Injury on another’s property may be cause for a premises liability case, but different rules apply to injuries sustained on government property. At the core, you must still be able to prove your injury was a result of the government’s action or lack of action, but stricter time restrictions make it crucial to file your claim early.
In the state of California, you have up to six months to file a premises liability claim against the government – less time than other premises liability cases. You must also provide the proper notice of claim to the government. It is best to take pictures and report your accident to an official on the property at the time of your accident to that they can fill out the necessary forms and provide documentation of your accident.
Your lawsuit cannot begin until after the government has completed its investigation and denied your claim. With the six-month time limit on government claims, it is important to contact a lawyer and begin your claims process as soon as possible after your accident.
Even when you follow the proper guidelines for filing a premises liability claim against the government, exceptions still exist for these types of claims that can give the government immunity from your accident.
- Discretionary decisions. A government facility is not responsible for personal injury claims made based on performing a discretionary function or duty of a federal agency or employee. Claims founded on the premise of acts of omission by government employees executing statutes and regulations are also not liable. However, the discretionary exception does not apply in cases where government employees act with improper purpose or malice.
- Planning decisions. The government is not liable for injury claims based on its planning decisions. This only applies to cases of planning, and not the actual construction. Negligent errors during construction of government facilities, such as improper materials or faulty installation, are viable claims.
Discuss your case with one of our San Jose premises liability attorneys to determine your chances of succeeding in a personal injury lawsuit against a government organization; it may be that another party is responsible for your injury as well.
Landlord Liability for Tenant Injury in San Jose
It’s important to understand the legal responsibilities your landlord owes you as a tenant at an apartment complex. Landlords have certain duties of care as the parties in charge of property in California and around the country: control, maintenance, and upkeep. The main concern of a landlord is the safety and well-being of tenants. Landlords are responsible for the “reasonable and prudent” care of a property to prevent tenant injuries. These duties include:
- Maintaining a safe environment. Landlords must give tenants a reasonably safe place to live. This includes taking care of apartment complex security, making sure doors and windows lock and are in proper working order, giving front doors deadbolt locks, controlling who has copies of keys to the apartments, and screening other tenants.
- Inspecting the property and making repairs. Aside from taking security measures to keep tenants safe, landlords must also take steps to prevent personal injury accidents. Landlords must regularly inspect apartment complexes and make repairs as necessary to prevent slips and falls, fires, floods, unsafe buildings, electrical problems, etc.
- Keeping the property clean and hazard-free. Landlords must also regularly clean and maintain properties to make sure they are safe. This may include removing trash, caring for common areas, and maintaining the landscape to be free from debris. The law requires that landlords deal with issues relating to bedbugs, roaches, rodents, and other pests.
The specific duties a landlord will have depends on the property, circumstances, and the tenant agreement. However, a landlord will always have the legal responsibility to do what a reasonable landlord would in similar circumstances. The landlord is likely guilty of negligence if another landlord would have acted differently in the same situation. Landlords will be liable for tenant injuries they reasonably could have prevented.
Can I Sue My Landlord for Premises Liability?
Explore your rights to file a claim or lawsuit against your landlord in San Jose. California civil laws permit tenants to file claims against their landlords (or another party that controls the property) after property-related accidents and injuries, including criminal attacks. The landlord might be liable for the premises accident if he or she failed to fulfill one of his/her legal duties to tenants. You need the following elements for a successful premises liability claim against a landlord:
- Proof of duty of care. You will need proof that you had a landlord-tenant relationship with the defendant. Furthermore, you must prove the defendant owed you duties of care as the party in charge of repairs and maintenance.
- Evidence of a breach of duty. Then, you will need to show that the landlord breached one of his/her duties to you. Breaches can be acts of negligence such as ignoring a known property problem, hiring unqualified contractors for repairs, or failing to respond to maintenance requests promptly.
- A link that shows causation. Next, you will need to show that your landlord’s act of negligence was the proximate cause of your injuries. If something else also contributed to your injuries, you may be able to hold more than one party jointly and severally liable.
- Documentation of damages. Finally, you need to present evidence that the landlord’s breach of duty caused you real, compensable damages. These include physical injury, medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
The San Jose personal injury lawyers at Henshaw & Henry, PC, can help you find out if you have grounds to file a lawsuit against your landlord in California. After any premises-related incident that causes an injury, contact us and request a free legal consultation. Our San Jose premises liability attorneys will listen to your story.
What You’ll Learn in a Free Consultation with Us
Henshaw & Henry, PC know how important it is to get in touch with attorneys following a harmful accident. We offer complimentary, zero-obligation case evaluations to give everyone the chance to have a conversation with a legal professional. You can schedule your consultation online or call (408) 533-1075 to request an appointment.