Property owners who invite customers onto their property have a legal responsibility to keep the area safe. A premises owner who fails to do so risks injuring customers and being held liable for those injuries. Pleasanton slip and fall accident attorney Stephen M. Fuerch has been practicing law for more than three decades, during which time he has helped countless Californians seek compensation for their injuries. If you were injured on the property of another person or company, you may be entitled to compensation.Falls Affect Millions of Americans
A slip and fall can be a dangerous accident that causes serious injury. According to the National Safety Council, more than 25,000 people died in 2009 as a result of falls, making it the second-leading cause of unintentional death at home. In 2011, about 8.9 million people went to the emergency room because of fall-related injuries. It is because of the serious danger posed by a slip and fall that property owners must keep their premises safe for visitors.Property Owners Have Legal Responsibilities
Property owners have varying levels of responsibility based on the type of visitor on their land. Store owners who invite customers onto their land, even passively, have the most stringent responsibility: They must take reasonable care to ensure that the property is reasonably safe for customers.
A person injured in a store or other similar property may file a premises liability suit against the property owner. To prevail in such a claim, California law requires the plaintiff to prove:
- The defendant owned or controlled the property;
- The defendant used or maintained the property in a negligent manner; and
- The defendant's negligence was a substantial factor in the plaintiff's injuries.
Proving the first and third elements can often (though not always) be straightforward. The defendant must be the person or entity in charge of the property. And the defendant’s negligence must have been a cause of the plaintiff’s injuries; unrelated causes of an injury will not make the defendant liable.
To prove the second element — that the property owner was negligent — the plaintiff uses the standard of care discussed above: A property owner who invites customers onto his land must take reasonable care to ensure that the property is reasonably safe. Property owners can fail to meet this standard of care in several ways, depending on the circumstances. Stores that allow tripping or slipping hazards to accumulate on the ground may have breached their duty of care if customers slip and fall. Likewise, if merchandise stacked precariously falls on a customer, the property owner may be liable. Property owners must also perform necessary maintenance on the property. Dilapidated stairs, uneven floorboards, and leaky pipes may create hazards. Other duties that accompany property ownership, such as providing adequate and competent security, may apply in some situations.
In any of these situations, if the property owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition — the dilapidated stairs, the slippery spill, etc. — and failed to remedy the situation, the defendant can be held liable.A Prevailing Plaintiff Is Entitled to Damages
If the case is decided in the plaintiff's favor, she may collect damages from the property owner. The plaintiff may recoup any economic expenses she incurred, such as medical bills and lost wages. In addition, if the plaintiff experiences noneconomic injuries, she can receive compensation for things like physical or mental pain and suffering.Contact Our Office Today
A property owner who relies on visiting customers must ensure that those customers are safe. If you were injured on the property of a store or other business, Pleasanton premises liability lawyer Stephen M. Fuerch can help you get the compensation to which you are legally entitled. Mr. Fuerch has more than 35 years of experience helping residents of Hayward, Dublin, and all of Alameda County. Call (925) 463-2575 or email us for a free and confidential consultation.