Understanding the Different Types of Premises Liability Cases

When you visit another person’s property, you never expect to walk away with a severe injury. Unfortunately, premises liability accidents make up a significant portion of personal injury cases throughout Orange County. Even when the property owner did not directly cause the accident, they could still be financially liable for the victim’s damages.

Understanding the different types of premises liability cases can help you determine whether your accident falls into this category. 

What Is Premises Liability?

Premises liability is a term for personal injury cases that occur due to a property owner’s negligence. 

When a property owner directly or indirectly invites you to their premises, they owe you a duty of care to create a safe, hazard-free environment. When property owners fail to remove or warn visitors of dangerous conditions, they are financially liable for injuries that occur. That’s why insurance companies typically encourage property owners to purchase liability insurance. 

A property owner doesn’t need to directly cause an accident to be liable. As long as they could have reasonably prevented the accident, yet failed to do so, they may be liable. 

Premises liability accidents usually occur on residential or commercial property. When they happen on public property, such as at a public park, the city government or the party responsible for overseeing the property could still be liable. 

Types of Premises Liability Cases

Premises liability claims usually fall into a few distinct categories:

Unsafe or Defective Conditions

Property owners should reasonably be aware of unsafe conditions that could put visitors at risk. Failing to mitigate, remove, or warn visitors of those hazards is an instance of premises liability. 

On residential property, unsafe conditions could include slippery floors, tripping hazards, uneven ground, or vicious animals. At a store, these conditions could include merchandise blocking the aisles, spilled liquids on the floor, or even icy sidewalks. 

Inadequate Security

If you experienced an injury due to criminal activity, you could hold the property owner liable for inadequate security. These cases are common at schools, apartment complexes, churches, and bars, where visitors expect at least some security measures to be in place. 

Proving inadequate security is sometimes more challenging than proving unsafe or defective conditions, as everyone has different standards for security. You may be able to show inadequate security if similar crimes have happened in the past and the property owner took no measures to prevent them from recurring. 

Inadequate security cases involving children may also be easier to prove. Daycares, preschools, and play centers must implement higher security measures to protect children than they would adults. 

Insufficient Warnings

Property owners cannot always quickly remove hazards. Issues like broken sidewalks and malfunctioning elevators shouldn’t prevent a business from opening, but they may take weeks or even months to rectify.

Warning visitors of hazards is often enough to remove liability for accidents. That’s why store owners place “wet floor” signs near recently mopped floors. But a warning may not suffice if the visitor has no alternative path or the sign is not visible enough to prevent accidents. 

If a hazard existed long enough for a property owner to know about it and warn visitors, yet the owner failed to implement the proper warnings, they may be liable. 

Common Examples of Premises Liability Accidents

While the above categories represent the different types of premises liability cases, these accidents can involve many hazards that you may not immediately attribute to the property owner. Review these common examples of premises liability accidents:

Slip and Falls

Slip and fall cases are some of the most common types of premises liability accidents. When visitors slip, trip, and fall due to hazards on another person’s property, the property owner is often liable. These hazards could include:

  • Icy sidewalks
  • Wet floors
  • Torn carpeting
  • Damaged flooring
  • Uneven steps or walkways
  • Holes in yards

Pool Accidents

Over 1.3 million California residents own pools, and unfortunately, these structures are common sources of premises liability accidents. The following pool-related hazards can lead to accidents:

  • Slippery pool decking
  • Broken pool flooring
  • Unmarked pool depths
  • Lack of fencing around pools where children may be present 
  • Unsafe chemical levels in pools
  • Poor lighting for nighttime swimming

Pool owners commonly invite friends, family members, and neighbors to their premises for pool parties, making accidents even more likely. However, property owners may still be liable for certain pool accidents in which they did not invite the victim to their property. When children wander into pools and drown, the property owner could be liable for failing to install fencing or a cover over the pool. 

Dog Bites

Animal bites are unique examples of premises liability cases because they do not always involve negligence. Animals sometimes act unpredictably, and an otherwise calm, friendly dog can bite a visitor without warning. Still, dog owners are typically liable for dog bite cases on their premises unless either of the following or true:

  • The victim provoked the dog (except when the victim was a child)
  • The victim was trespassing on the property

While some states have a “one free bite” rule that removes owner liability the first time their dog bites someone, California is not one of those states. Instead, California enforces strict liability for dog bites on public property or in which the victim was legally on private property. 

Accidents at Apartment Complexes

Many premises liability accidents happen at apartment complexes, where hazards like pets, swimming pools, and inadequate security are often present. Landlords and property managers have a duty of care to provide safe living conditions for tenants. Failing to fix malfunctioning locks and broken security lights in a timely manner leaves the property owner financially liable for damages. 

Are You a Premises Liability Victim? 

Have you experienced an accident that meets the definition of one of the different types of premises liability cases? You may be able to seek compensation from the property owner, but you’ll need an experienced attorney on your side to help you seek compensation.

Contact Khalil Law Group today at 714-617-7870 to schedule your free consultation with a premises liability attorney in Orange County, CA.

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