Dangerous Conditions on Property
The law imposes on property owners and businesses occupying property a duty to reasonably maintain the property and to keep it safe, or at least warn visitors of risks. For example, when floors in a retail store are being cleaned, the store should put out caution cones and a wet floor sign to warn of the potentially dangerous wet floor. Similarly, municipalities and counties have a responsibility to keep public property in a safe condition, and enact ordinances requiring property owners adjacent to the sidewalks to maintain the sidewalk in a safe condition. Some common dangerous conditions in Los Angeles include potholes, uneven or rotted stairs, broken rails, balcony collapses, slippery floors, loose carpet, uneven sidewalks and falling objects.Liability for Dangerous Property Conditions in California
To recover damages for dangerous property conditions, a plaintiff must show: (1) the duty of the property owner or occupier to the plaintiff, (2) breach of duty, (3) causation, and (4) actual damages. The highest duty of care is owed to those invited to a property, such as customers at a shopping mall or patrons of a restaurant. However, in most cases, no duty is owed to trespassers that the property owner does not know about.
Many dangerous property condition lawsuits involve a concealed danger. If a danger is open and obvious, a defendant landowner may take the position that the plaintiff should have seen it and avoided it in the exercise of due care. However, if an owner or occupier is aware of a concealed condition that involves an unreasonable risk of harm to those that come into contact with it, however, and are aware that a visitor is about to come into contact with it, the failure to warn the visitor or repair the condition is usually considered negligence in California.
Parents should be aware that in California, unlike many other states, a private swimming pool is not an "attractive nuisance" as a matter of law; private swimming pool owners in California do not automatically owe a duty to trespassing children to keep the swimming pool covered in case a small child trespasses onto the property, falls in and drowns. However, every case is different and sometimes other theories of liability may apply to a case involving a child's injury.
What if the dangerous condition occurs on public property, rather than private property? Public property, such as roadways or highways, must also be kept safe for users. Appropriate traffic controls and signs should be used to prevent motor vehicle accidents. In some cases, unguarded ditches, unmarked construction zones, or a poorly designed roadway cause a serious accident. If you believe you have a claim based on dangerous property conditions on public policy, you should be aware that there is a much shorter window of time of six months within which you can file a claim against cities or counties. If you fail to file within that short window, you lose your right to sue for damages.Hire a Riverside Premises Liability Attorney
Those who experience catastrophic injuries or lose a loved one because of dangerous property conditions deserve experienced representation. The Riverside attorneys of the Sharifi Firm, PLC represent those injured because of dangerous conditions on property in San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Temecula and elsewhere in Southern California. Contact us at 1-866-422-7222 or via our online form for a free, no-obligation consultation.