If you were injured on private property, you may have cause to pursue a premises liability claim or lawsuit for compensation. In California, property owners are expected to protect visitors from harm and undue injury by proactively maintaining their property and repairing dangerous conditions as they arise. When these protocols are not followed, injuries that result often warrant a premises liability lawsuit for the owner’s negligence.
California Liability Laws
California liability laws focus on negligence. This means that all parties involved in a premises liability case will be held responsible for their specific role in the event/injury that occurred.
Premises liability cases require proof that the plaintiff was harmed due to negligence, typically at the hands of property management. For example, if you visit a hotel and get bitten by bedbugs, and there is proof that hotel operations were aware of previous bedbug complaints, the hotel would be named as the negligent party and held responsible for damages accordingly.
Under premises liability law, the injured party can sue the individual or company that owns, leases, or controls the property where they were injured. In some cases, multiple people may share ownership of the property. This may happen if the property is under joint tenants or tenants in common. When this is the case,those parties will be held responsible for accidents and injuries.
Types of Property Ownership
There are two main types of property ownership: tenants in common and joint tenants.
Tenants in common are often the default status of property ownership when multiple people are involved. They have an undivided interest in the property, which means that regardless of the percentage of the property they own, they have a right to purchase the whole property if the other parties are no longer on the contract This can happen with condominiums under a specific contract.
Joint tenancy happens when a deed or will bequeaths property to two or more people, most often a married couple. Forming a joint tenancy contract requires specific qualifications to be valid. The intent to create a contract must be clear as it is not considered a default tenancy. The joint tenants need to receive their right to land simultaneously and own the land equally. Each tenant has the right to possess the entire property, like a tenant in common agreement.
Joint tenants can also end the contract by selling or giving away their interest in the land. In this case, the new owner becomes a tenant in common with the other tenant. Ownership under a joint tenancy also includes the right to survivorship. The right to survivorship means that when a joint tenant dies, their interest in the land goes to the surviving tenant automatically, and they become the sole owner of the property.
Regardless of the ownership agreement, if you were injured on another person’s property due to their negligence, you have a right to sue for adequate compensation. If the property owner did not follow the duty of care, they can, and should, be held liable for your injuries.
Duty of Care
The property owner has an obligation to a duty of care; this means that they must maintain their property safely. If the property owner is negligent in their duty of care, they can be held liable for injuries sustained on their property.
Compensation in a premises liability case can cover:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Physical therapy
- Pain and suffering
However, if the property owner provided the adequate duty of care and either alerted visitors to the potential dangers of entering a restricted area or closed off the area altogether, the injured party may also be named as a liable party in the case.
Compensatory Damages for Liability
Property owners who are negligent in upholding their duty of care may owe the injured party compensatory damages. This is money that the wrongdoer pays to compensate the victim in a personal injury case.
Compensatory damages fall into two categories: economic, or pecuniary, damages and non-economic damages.
- Economic damages typically cover medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.
- Non-economic damages are often harder to quantify, as they cover pain and suffering.
If you have been injured due to negligence, you may be entitled to compensatory damages. It is best to consult an attorney for a review of your case to determine your next step.
Fight for the Compensation You Deserve
Getting injured on someone else’s property can quickly become a complicated, drawn-out legal battle. Ownership laws and contracts are often convoluted. A qualified attorney can help you understand your rights and the details of your case.
Our team at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP has secured thousands of successful outcomes over the last 50 years, and we are prepared to do the same for you. At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, your fight is our fight.
Find out how we can fight for you on our website or call us at (800) 462-7160 to schedule your consultation.