If a property owner fails to follow relevant building codes and safety regulations on their property, are they liable for accidents that occur? In many cases, yes.
Property owners owe a duty of care to visitors who are lawfully on their premises, and failing to mitigate hazards on their properties may leave them liable for accidents that occur.
Building codes are in place for a reason — to ensure that a building is structurally safe for occupants. When a property owner fails to adhere to building codes, they create a hazard that could injure visitors.
Learn the connection between premises liability and building codes, then contact the premises liability attorneys at Khalil Law Group for assistance.
What Are Building Codes?
Building codes detail the minimum requirements the structural components in a building must meet to keep occupants safe. These codes impact all of the following structural systems:
- Natural gas connections
- The physical structure of the building
Building codes aim to protect occupants from weather conditions and common hazards the building faces.
Common Building Code Violations That Lead to Accidents
Homeowners and business owners are responsible for maintaining their properties to meet current California building codes, but many property owners overlook small issues to save money or because they’re unaware of updated codes.
Common building code violations that lead to accidents in California include the following:
- Broken or missing handrails
- Lack of non-slip mats on slippery surfaces
- Uneven curbs without adequate warning signs
- Uneven or inconsistent steps
- Lack of GFCI outlets in rooms with faucets
- Improper bathroom ventilation
- Mis-installed smoke detectors
Some of these codes may not seem very important, but violating any of them could lead to significant injuries. For example, without adequate handrails, visitors can trip and fall down the stairs, breaking bones. Improper bathroom ventilation could lead to heat stroke or mold build-up, which can prove hazardous over time.
Who Is Liable for Accidents Due to Building Code Violations?
Multiple parties could be partially liable for an accident resulting from building code violations. When you work with premises liability attorneys, they can review the circumstances leading to your accident and help you hold the relevant parties accountable.
Homeowners and Business Owners
If you can prove that the homeowner or business owner was aware of or reasonably should have been aware of building code violations, you can hold them liable for your accident. Property owners are responsible for exercising reasonable care to prevent accidents, which includes removing hazards.
Building owners are frequently the sole liable parties in premises liability cases. However, other parties may be liable for building code violations.
You may be able to show that the architect who designed the property failed to account for necessary building codes that were in place the year they designed the building. If this is the case, you could hold the architect liable through an insurance claim or lawsuit.
If contractors recently renovated or remodeled the property, they had a duty to update any fixtures they worked on to meet building codes. You may also be able to hold these contractors liable in a premises liability claim.
Negligence in Building Code Injury
Bringing a premises liability and building codes claim against a property owner requires extensive evidence of their negligence. Thankfully, when the property owner has violated building codes, you won’t need to spend too much time proving their negligence; the evidence is in their violation.
Experiencing an injury in a building that was not up to code gives you two outlets for pursuing compensation: negligence per se and premises liability.
Negligence Per Se
Negligence per se is the concept that when a person violates safety laws, they are automatically negligent in any resulting accidents or injuries. This concept applies to building code violations, as failing to follow building codes is against the law.
A property owner breaking the law is an example of breaching the duty of care they owe to other people. In this type of claim, you won’t need to spend time proving that the property owner breached their duty to protect you from dangerous conditions.
Even if the property was completely up to code, the property owner may still be liable for your accident due to the concept of premises liability.
Property owners are responsible for removing, mitigating, or warning visitors of hazards on their premises. They owe this duty of care to the following types of visitors:
- Invitees: People the property owner has directly or indirectly invited to the property.
- Licensees: Individuals the property owner has permitted to be on the property for the visitors’ own gain
If you were lawfully on another person’s property and an unsafe condition caused your injury, you can seek compensation through a premises liability claim, even if the owner did not violate building codes.
Can a Homeowner Sue for Failure to Follow Building Codes?
Cases involving premises liability and building codes can become complicated quickly. Sometimes, a homeowner who is technically liable for a building code accident may also sue another party for failing to update their home to the necessary safety regulations.
The homeowner could seek partial damages from an architect, contractor, or builder to help cover the damages they owe the premises liability victim.
Seeking Compensation For Building Code Violation Accidents
If you’ve suffered an injury on another person’s property due to a building code violation, you have a right to hold the liable party financially responsible for your injuries.
First, you’ll need to determine the liable party or parties. Then, you can file an insurance claim, take legal action, or both to seek compensation.
An attorney can help collect compelling evidence and ensure that you navigate all legal issues successfully. Your attorney can provide professional guidance and advice throughout your case, significantly improving your chances of success.
Work with an Experienced Premises Liability Attorney in Orange County, CA
Are you looking for a premises liability attorney with extensive experience navigating California liability and building codes? Contact Khalil Law Group in Newport Beach, CA, today at 714-617-7870 to schedule your free consultation.