Ways to Prove Liability in Premises Liability Cases

A person holding injured hip on metal stairs.

Imagine turning down the condiment aisle at the grocery store to grab some ketchup, not noticing the broken jar of pickles in front of you. You slip and fall on the mess, landing hard on your hip. The pain is so excruciating you don’t even feel the sting of the lacerations made by the shards of glass from the shattered jar.

Now imagine what that accident’s going to cost you — the ambulance ride to the hospital, the overnight stay, stitches for the numerous cuts, surgery followed by rehab for that broken hip. That’ll add up quickly, especially when you can’t work because you’ve got to keep up with your doctors’ appointments, not to mention, take time to recover from your injuries.

It may surprise — and relieve you — to know that you can hold the grocery store responsible for your accident and, as a result, need to compensate you for your medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering.

But how do you hold them accountable? In this post, we’ll discuss ways to prove liability in premises liability cases and how you can improve your chances of recovering compensation for your injuries with the help of a premises liability lawyer in Bakersfield.

What Is Premises Liability?

Premises liability laws hold property owners and occupiers responsible for injuries or accidents that occur on their property due to dangerous or hazardous conditions. Essentially, it establishes a duty of care owed by property owners or occupiers to individuals who enter their premises.

If property owners breach this duty of care and someone suffers injuries, the injured party can hold the property owner or occupier liable for the damages suffered by the injured party.

Examples of Premises Liability

Premises liability cases can arise in various settings, including private residences, commercial properties, public places, and even government-owned properties. Some common examples of premises liability situations include:

Slip and Fall Accidents

These occur when someone slips and falls due to a hazardous condition on the property, such as wet floors, uneven surfaces, or icy walkways.

Inadequate Maintenance

Property owners must maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition. Failure to do so can result in liability if someone on their property suffers injuries due to poor maintenance, such as broken handrails, crumbling staircases, or faulty electrical wiring.

Negligent Security

You can hold property owners liable if inadequate security measures or negligence on their part leads to criminal acts, such as assaults or robberies, on their premises.

Dog Bites

In many jurisdictions, you can hold dog owners liable for injuries caused by their dog if they knew or should have known that their pet posed a risk of harm.

Swimming Pool Accidents

Property owners with swimming pools must take safety precautions, such as installing fences and gates, to prevent accidents, especially involving children.

Hazardous Conditions

Any dangerous conditions on the property that the owner is aware of or should know about, such as broken glass, exposed wiring, or toxic substances, can lead to liability if they cause harm to visitors.

How Do you Prove Liability in a Premises Liability Case?

To establish liability in a premises liability case, the injured party typically needs to demonstrate that:

  • The property owner or occupier owed a duty of care to the injured party.
  • The property owner or occupier breached that duty by failing to maintain a safe environment or warn of known hazards.
  • The breach of duty was a proximate cause of the injury.
  • The injured party suffered damages as a result of the breach.

Let’s break that down a little further.

To establish liability, the plaintiff (injured party) must first demonstrate that the property owner or occupier owed them a duty of care. This duty can vary depending on the relationship between the parties and the nature of the property. For example, a business owner generally owes a higher duty of care to customers compared to a social guest.

The plaintiff must then show that the property owner or occupier breached their duty of care. This could involve demonstrating that the property owner failed to maintain a safe environment or warn about known hazards.

You must establish a direct link between the breach of duty and the injury suffered. This means demonstrating that the hazardous condition or the property owner’s negligence caused the injury.

In some cases, the plaintiff may need to prove that the property owner knew about the dangerous condition through actual notice or constructive notice:

  • Actual notice: The plaintiff must prove that the property owner knew about the hazardous condition and did nothing to address it.
  • Constructive notice: The plaintiff must demonstrate that the property owner should have known about the condition through reasonable inspections and maintenance procedures.

Finally, the plaintiff must show that they suffered damages due to their accident injuries, such as medical bills, loss of income earnings, and pain and suffering.

How can I Strengthen My Premises Liability Claim?

Premises liability cases can be complicated.

You can improve your chances of holding an establishment liable for your injuries if you:

  • Consult an attorney: Consult an experienced premises liability attorney who can assess your case, guide you through the legal process, and help you build a strong case for liability.
  • Gather evidence: Crucial evidence in premises liability cases can include photographs, videos, maintenance records, and witness testimonies to support your claims.
  • Hire expert witnesses: Expert witnesses can establish liability, especially when it comes to proving negligence, causation, or the standard of care. For example, a safety expert may testify about industry standards and whether the property owner met them.
  • Maintain documentation: Maintain thorough documentation of the incident, including medical records, accident reports, correspondence with the property owner, and any other relevant documents.

What Damages Available in a Premises Liability Case?

In a premises liability case, if the plaintiff successfully proves the liability of the property owner or occupier, they may recover damages.

Common types of damages in premises liability cases include:

  • Medical expenses: This includes compensation for the cost of medical treatment, hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation, prescription medications, and any other necessary healthcare expenses related to the injuries the accident caused.
  • Loss of income earnings: If the plaintiff missed work due to the injuries sustained on the property, they may recover compensation for lost income, including past and future earnings.
  • Pain and suffering: You may recover damages for pain and suffering caused by the injuries. These real but less concrete damages can vary widely based on the nature and severity of the injuries.
  • Disability and impairment: If the injuries result in a long-term or permanent disability or impairment, the plaintiff may receive compensation for the impact on their quality of life, future earning capacity, and daily activities.
  • Property damage: In some cases, an accident may have damaged personal property, such as vehicles, clothing, or belongings. In this case, you may seek compensation for property damage.
  • Loss of consortium: In California, the spouse or registered domestic partner of the injured party may claim damages for the loss of consortium, support, and services due to the injuries.

To understand the potential damages available in your premises liability case and how they apply to your situation, consult an experienced personal injury attorney. They can evaluate your case, preserve evidence, and advocate on your behalf to pursue the appropriate compensation for your injuries and losses.

Contact a Premises Liability Lawyer

Mickey Fine, Premises Liability Attorney

Mickey Fine, Premises Liability Attorney

A premises liability lawyer can protect your rights, gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and navigate the legal system effectively.

A lawyer increases your chances of receiving fair compensation for your injuries and losses while reducing the stress and burden of handling a complex legal matter on your own.

If you or a loved one suffered injuries at an establishment and the owner’s negligence was a factor, contact a premises liability lawyer to discuss your case.

The Bakersfield personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Mickey Fine offer free consultations during which we can assess the merits of your case and discuss how we can help you.

Premises Liability
by Mickey Fine Law
Last updated on - Originally published on