Motor vehicle accidents make up a large number of cases on the personal injury docket in Los Angeles. However, there are other common ways that plaintiffs can be injured. Unfortunately, people are sometimes hurt when they are a guest, or customer, on someone else’s property.
Owners of property owe a duty to those individuals who enter onto their property. Owners must exercise ordinary care in the use, maintenance, and management of their property to avoid exposing people to unreasonable risks of harm. Unreasonable risks of harm could include: spills, broken stairs, ditches, banana peels, etc. These type of risks can occur naturally or artificially, meaning that it can be caused by untrimmed trees, or an employee neglecting his duties to clean. Either way owners can be held responsible for injuries.
If an owner does not exercise ordinary care, he or she may be liable if the harm caused by the lack of ordinary care is “foreseeable.” For example, if an owner of a business does not repair a large hole located on the store’s floor, and a customer falls in the hole and breaks his leg, the owner of the business would be held liable. It is “foreseeable” that a customer could fall into a large hole because it was not repaired. An example when negligence may not be found is when an extraordinary event caused the injury.
In the hypothetical above, it does not matter whether the owner was “actually” aware of the large hole. Owners can be held liable if they had “constructive knowledge.” Constructive knowledge means that the owner should have been aware of the large hole because a reasonable prudent owner would have checked for large holes.
Although it is counter-intuitive, owners can be held liable for injuries to trespassers. Owners can also be held liable for injuries to guests even if the injuries were caused by a criminal. The plaintiff in such a case would have to show that the risk of criminal harm was foreseeable, and that the owner failed to take steps to prevent the foreseeable risk of criminal harm. One example: a large sports team holds a game. During the game, two drunk rivals threaten one another. “I will stab you when the game is over,” one of them says. Two employees of the sports team overhear the exchange and witness the banter. After the game, the shouter stabs the rival, because nothing was done by the sports team employees.
Injuries incurred on a property can cost thousands of dollars in medical bills, particularly if there are broken bones involved. It is wise to contact a personal injury attorney if you, or someone you know, has been injured as a result of the negligence of a landowner. Our office welcomes your calls and inquiries.