Premises liability laws in California differ depending on the type of property you were injured in. In particular, California premises liability law imposes strict rules for owners and occupiers of stores and other commercial premises in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the state.
We asked our premises liability attorney in Los Angeles from the Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg to outline everything you need to know about holding stores and other commercial properties liable for your injuries and damages.
When stores and commercial premises can be held liable for injuries
Under California law, the owner or occupier of a store or any other commercial property owes his/her customers and guests a duty to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition in order to prevent accidents and injuries. In the event of a slip and fall accident or any other premises liability accident on that property, the injured party may be able to recover damages as long as he or she can prove that the owner or occupier breached the duty of care, and as a result, unnecessarily and unreasonably exposed customers to danger.
In no way does it mean that commercial property owners or occupiers are legally required to prevent all kinds of accidents on their property, both predictable and unpredictable. As long as the owner or occupier exercises a high standard of care, performs regular and proper maintenance and inspections of the property, and enforces measures to prevent reasonably predictable accidents, he or she may not be held liable for injuries.
Our experienced premises liability attorney in Los Angeles explains that owners and occupiers of stores and other commercial property in California have no duty to warn their invitees, customers, and guests of an unsafe condition that is open and obvious. If the invitee is exercising ordinary and reasonable care, that obvious unsafe condition will not pose any danger.
Lack of knowledge defense in a premises liability case
Although many owners and occupiers of commercial premises in California avoid responsibility for accidents by citing “lack of knowledge” as their defense, a skilled premises liability lawyer will have to establish one of the following in order to recover compensation in your particular case and prevent the owner or occupier from escaping liability:
- The defendant (owner or occupier of the property) created the dangerous condition through his/her own negligent actions or omission to act;
- The defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition which caused you injuries because he/she was made aware of it or saw it; or
- The defendant should have discovered the dangerous condition had he/she exercised a high standard of reasonable care (e.g. through proper and regular maintenance and inspections).
Liability of owners and occupiers of stores and commercial premises
Many people in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California do not realize this, but merchants and storekeepers can be held liable for the negligent acts or omission to act on the part of their employees. This area of law is called “vicarious liability,” and means that employers can be held liable for the negligence of their own employees who fail to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition.
California premises liability law requires owners and occupiers of stores and commercial premises where customers can touch, replace, and remove goods from shelves to take even greater precautions by performing inspections more frequently, as customers may create hazardous conditions for other customers.
Owners and occupiers of commercial premises in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California are also legally required to keep in mind that their property can be visited by young children, the elderly, the disabled, and the infirm, and must adjust the way they maintain their premises accordingly.
In a nutshell, you may want to speak to a Los Angeles premises liability attorney to figure out your best legal strategy and recover compensation. Contact the Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg for a free case evaluation. Call at 310-997-0904 or complete this contact form.