In California, as in other states, the owner of residential or commercial property has a duty to anyone legally on the property to monitor and maintain the premises so as to minimize the risk of injury to that visitor. If you are injured because of the existence of a dangerous condition on another person’s property, you may be able to file a “premises liability” claim for your losses.
A Property Owner’s Duty
A property owner (or anyone with control over the upkeep of the premises, such as a property manager or even a tenant) must take “reasonable” measures to minimize the risk of injury to others. There is no absolute duty to ensure that no one is hurt on your property, but you must act as a reasonable person would. The law does not specifically identify what is reasonable-that is typically decided by a jury. The duty is generally twofold:
- The property must be reasonably monitored for potential risks. Owners, property managers and tenants must “reasonably” monitor steps, stairs, walkways, thoroughfares, sidewalks, parking lots and other places people would go to ensure that no dangerous situations exist. If there’s prior knowledge that a specific part of the property is more inclined to become a hazard-a floor more susceptible to collecting water or a sidewalk that’s more likely to ice u p—the duty may be higher
- Once the property owner knows (or should reasonably know) of the danger, the property owner must either fix the problem, properly warn others of the potential risk, or prevent others from using the area posing the danger
The Visitor’s Status
The duty varies based on the status of the visitor. If the visitor is a trespasser-not legally on the property-there is no duty, unless the visitor is a child who has been lured on the property by some artificial attraction. If the visitor is tere at the request or express invitation of the property owner—an invitee, as defined by the law—the property owner owes the highest duty, a duty to use reasonable care to prevent injury. On the other hand, if the visitor is on the property for his own personal benefit-someone visiting a retail store, for example—the visitor is considered a “licensee” and the duty is only to warn of dangers the owner knows about and would not expect the visitor to discover.
Contact the Law Offices of J. Lewis & Associates
To discuss your legal needs with an experienced Riverside premises liability injury lawyer, contact our office online or call us toll-free at 1-800-228-0507. There is no charge for your initial consultation. Se Habla Espanol.