Northern California Premises Accident Lawyer
Premises accidents, sometimes referred to as “property accidents,” occur because a property owner or renter failed to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition. Unsafe property conditions can lead to falls, shocks, burns, poisoning, drowning, head injuries from falling objects, and other dangerous accidents.
If you have been the victim of a Bay Area premises accident, a personal injury lawyer at KKG Law can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Our personal injury team represents accident victims in Oakland, San Jose, Fairfield, and all other Bay Area communities.
Duty to Maintain Property
Owners and renters of land and buildings in California ordinarily have a duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition so that people who use the property are not injured when an accident could have been foreseen and prevented. The primary exceptions to that rule involve property that is made available to the public for recreational use without charging a fee, and property that is used for sporting events, when the danger to participants and spectators should be obvious.
Property owners and renters breach their duty to the public when they know or should know about an unsafe property condition and either fail to correct the condition or to warn users about the danger. For example, if a liquid spills in a supermarket aisle and a customer immediately slips and falls on the wet floor, the supermarket might not have breached its duty because it had no opportunity to protect its customers from harm.
On the other hand, if a store employee sees the spill and ignores it, or goes for a mop without taking action to warn customers away from the wet floor, the store will probably be responsible if a customer slips on the wet floor and falls. If store employees do not regularly check aisles for wet spots, the store might also be responsible for a slip-and-fall injury because it did not take reasonable precautions to avoid foreseeable injuries to customers.
The most common accidents caused by dangerous property conditions are slip-and-falls. A slip-and-fall occurs when an accident victim loses his or her footing on a slippery surface, including:
- Spilled liquids in product aisles
- Rain and moisture tracked into building entrances
- Spilled drinks in taverns
- Ice cubes and beverages spilled in restaurants and on dance floors
- Ice cream and wet foods spilled in a mall
- Slippery tubs and shower stalls in motels and nursing homes
- Polished hardwood floors or tiles
- Loose gravel on business sidewalks
- Loose stair tread coverings
When businesses know that slipping is a risk, they must be vigilant about inspecting surfaces to make sure they are dry and free from debris. When businesses install flooring in areas that are frequented by the public, they have a duty to use flooring surfaces that protect against slipping and to maintain those surfaces properly.
Elderly customers are particularly vulnerable to slip-and-fall accidents. While a slip-and-fall can cause head injuries, wrist and knee injuries, and broken bones in any property user, most hip injuries sustained by senior citizens are caused by falls. They often lead to hip replacement surgery and a lifetime of pain.
Like a slip-and-fall, a tripping accident ends with a fall. On business premises, tripping accidents are caused by:
- Merchandise protruding into aisles from lower shelves
- Cords stretched across a floor
- Frayed carpeting
- Parking lot potholes
- Uneven surfaces on business sidewalks
- Small items left on areas of the floor where customers might walk
Inadequate lighting contributes to tripping accidents when there is too little light for customers to see hidden obstacles.
Homeowners may be responsible for tripping accidents caused by children’s toys left on a sidewalk, loose rugs, and poorly maintained driveways. Most homeowners carry insurance to protect themselves from liability for their negligent failure to keep their homes safe.
Swimming Pool Accidents
Private property owners have a duty to cover swimming pools when they are not in use, or to erect a fence that keeps children from entering the pool when adults are not present. Property owners are responsible when children drown in their unprotected pools because they should know that young children are attracted to swimming pools.
Shocks can lead to electrocution, burns, heart damage, or muscle injuries. Shocks often cause people to fall, exposing them to secondary injuries. While a shock can be caused by exposed wiring in a home or commercial building, frayed electrical cords are a more common reason for business customers and home visitors to sustain a shock.
Hidden Property Hazards
Subject to the exception noted above for property that is made available to the public for recreational purposes, landowners who invite people onto their property (or who should expect people to use the property, even if they are uninvited) have a duty to keep the property safe. A hidden well, a cliff that is concealed by bushes, or a ditch that is not visible to casual property users may lead to serious injuries. Property owners have a duty to erect warning signs or fences when property hazards are not obvious.
When construction companies demolish or remodel a building, they have a duty to protect bystanders who happen to be walking near the construction site. Scaffolding that collapses, debris that falls from the construction site during demolition, or tools dropped from a height by construction workers can all cause serious injuries to unsuspecting bystanders.
Toxins and Explosives
It isn’t often that a property owner leaves dynamite or blasting caps where children might find them, but it has been known to happen. It is more common for property owners to fail to store fireworks in a place that is inaccessible to children. Like swimming pools, children may be unable to resist explosives, and property owners are held liable for accidental injuries that they could have prevented.
Many products, from weed killers to cleaning supplies, can be poisonous. They should always be stored out of the reach of children. Adults can also be injured by dangerous chemicals that are released into the air or sprayed on land by a neighboring property owner. Property owners who fail to protect others from toxic substances may be liable for injuries that result from poisoning, skin conditions, or respiratory problems resulting from exposure to dangerous chemicals.
Failure to Protect
Certain property owners have a duty to protect customers from harm. For example, taverns should not allow angry, intoxicated patrons to attack other patrons. Parking lot owners should install adequate lighting to discourage sexual assaults. While property owners do not always have an affirmative duty to protect property owners, a personal injury lawyer can help victims understand whether a property owner facilitated an injury by failing to take reasonable action to prevent the occurrence of harm.
Bay Area Premises Accident Lawyer
In addition to the common examples of premises liability claims discussed above, any accident that is caused by a property owner’s failure to keep premises in a safe condition can entitle injury victims to compensation. To learn how 707-898-8125 can help you receive fair compensation if you were injured by an unsafe property condition, call us at 707-898-8125. You can also use our online contact form to send us a message. KKG Law represents accident victims in Oakland, San Jose, Fairfield, and all other Bay Area communities.