Premises Liabilty

Premises Liability in California: What You Need to Know

Old lady leaned on a wooden fence suffering pain in her right ankle.

In California, if you are injured on someone else's property, the owner may be held responsible under the legal doctrine of premises liability. 

The property owner must take reasonable steps to protect visitors from foreseeable harm. If the property owner doesn't do so and you are hurt, the owner may be held accountable for your losses.

The extent to which property owners can be held accountable for injuries on their land varies from state to state. 

Here are some of the most important California premises liability requirements and when you should seek legal advice from a premises liability lawyer in Los Angeles.

Elements of a California Premises Liability Case

Premises liability in California is founded on the owner's or possessor's carelessness. The duty of property owners to provide "ordinary care" is covered in California Civil Code 1714, which emphasizes that everyone is responsible for this requirement. 

This statute applies to injuries resulting from failure to exercise ordinary care. The following critical factors must exist to establish a premises liability personal injury claim against a property owner:

  • The defendant owns or controls the property.
  • The defendant was negligent in exerting "ordinary care" to avoid damage.
  • The plaintiff was hurt as a result of the property's irresponsible care.
  • Negligence played a substantial role in the cause of the harm.

For a person to establish a legal claim under California premises liability standards, some crucial indicators must be present. 

Suppose the property owner disregarded their "duty of care" to prevent injury. In that case, they might be held accountable for damages such as medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other losses.

Individuals Held Accountable Under California Law

Property owners are not the only people who can be held accountable for accidents caused by dangerous infrastructure. 

Depending on the circumstances, everyone who rents, leases, owns, or works on the property may be held accountable.

For instance, if a customer slips and then falls in a restaurant on a wet floor and is injured, the restaurant owner, not the property owner, may be held liable.

In California, the individual or corporation responsible for the property's upkeep is held accountable. This could be a group of individuals or entities in some circumstances.

If you are harmed on commercial or residential property in California due to unsafe property conditions, you may be able to seek compensation.

Who Is Responsible If You Are Hurt On Someone Else's Property?

Premises liability laws govern who is liable for injuries on the property of a landowner, lessor, or occupier.

What If Someone Gets Hurt On Your Property? 

What happens if you get hurt on someone else's property? Do you have legal standing to sue the landowner? What about the property owner?

A set of regulations addressing these problems is called "premises liability." Although every state recognizes some premises liability, the specific rules differ by state.

The Fundamentals of Premises Liability

In California, a person who owns, leases, occupies, or controls a premise is negligent if they fail to do one of the following two things:

  • Take the appropriate procedures to protect the property.
  • Use reasonable caution when discovering potentially dangerous circumstances and repairing, replacing, or properly warning of anything that could reasonably be expected to cause harm to others.

The court may consider the following elements in determining whether the owner, lessor, or occupier exercised reasonable care:

  • The property's location
  • The possibility of someone visiting the property
  • There is a chance of injury.
  • The likelihood of severe harm
  • Whether the defendant was aware of the harmful condition or should have been aware of it.
  • The difficulty of defending against such a threat.
  • The defendant's level of control over the scenario put people in danger.

Premises liability claims can be filed for various reasons, such as dog attacks, swimming pool accidents, and slips and falls.

Defenses Available in a Premises Liability Case

If a landowner, lessor, or occupier can demonstrate one of the following scenarios, they may avoid liability in a premises liability action:

  • The hazardous situation was open and obvious (a condition is "open and obvious" if a reasonable person should have observed and avoided it).
  • That the wounded individual was aware of the potentially dangerous circumstance before being injured
  • That the injury was caused by a little, negligible, or minor deficiency in the property (this is sometimes called the "trivial defect defense")

In California, Who Can Pursue a Premises Liability Claim?

In most cases, anyone (even trespassers) who is hurt on someone else's property can pursue a premises liability claim if they believe carelessness is a contributing factor.

When someone is killed on someone else's property, the deceased's family members may file a wrongful death claim to collect funeral expenses, lost future wages, companionship, and other damages.

What If the Property Is Not Maintained by You?

A landowner's duty is not delegable in California. This means that even if the landowner hires someone to manage the property and the hired person fails to do so safely, the landowner is still accountable for any injury caused by the hired person.

In a Premises Liability Action, What Kind of Damages Are Possible?

If you are found to be at fault in your case, you may be able to get compensation for the following:

  • Anguish and pain
  • Measures of punishment (in rare cases)
  • Medical treatment in the past and the future
  • Wages lost
  • Emotional anguish

The Statute of Limitations in California

In most premises liability cases, the injured party has two years to file a lawsuit from the date of the harm. If the injured person fails to submit a lawsuit within the time limit, their case will be dismissed, and they will not be reimbursed.

The 2-year statute of limitations has a few exceptions. If the victim is suing the government, they must file an administrative claim within six months. 

Another exemption is if the injured individual is under 18, in which case the statute of limitations will not start running until the injured person reaches the age of 18.

The best approach to ensure that your claim is filed on time is to seek the advice of an experienced California attorney as soon as possible following the injury.

How to File a Premises Liability Lawsuit in California?

Any injuries caused on the property may be held liable by a negligent property owner or occupier who fails to keep the property reasonably safe. The injured party may be entitled to sue the property owner for damages in a personal injury action.

What Are the Most Prevalent Claims for Premises Liability?

Premises liability accidents can happen on almost any property, including your own.

Parks, office buildings, stores and malls, parking spaces, houses, and private homes are all examples of government property.

Do Property Owners Owe Trespassers a Duty of Care?

A property owner's duty to a trespasser in California varies depending on the situation and the source of the injury. In some regions, the degree of responsibility owed is determined by the individual's position on the land. However, in California, duty is no longer classified based on the following status:

  • Invader
  • Licensee
  • Trespasser

Instead, the jury would look at all relevant elements to determine whether the property owner took reasonable precautions to preserve the property in a reasonably safe state. Here are a few examples:

The property's location; the potential of a trespasser visiting the property; the possibility and degree of harm.


Premises liability in California is governed by a complex set of laws. Understanding these laws is essential for businesses and property owners to minimize liability exposure. Additionally, individuals injured on someone else's property should be aware of the legal principles that may apply to their case and consult with a personal injury lawyer. 

Our attorneys and staff members at Mendez and Sanchez Law are here to help you as we traverse the difficult legal landscape to secure the restitution you deserve. If you have a Personal Injury, Premises Liability Claims, Auto Accident, Workers Compensation, Slip and Fall, or other legal difficulties, please contact us immediately!


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