Premises Liability

Were you injured at a Southern California store, restaurant, shopping center, amusement park, or other property open to the public?

Our law firm injury lawyers can help you recover your economic losses, your present and future medical expenses, and for the pain and life disruption.

On an average weekend, you might go out for dinner, shop for clothes, go to the grocery store or visit a friend’s house. Each time you enter these places, you likely assume that the person in charge is maintaining a basic level of safety. 

But a slippery floor, a poorly maintained sidewalk or an elevator in need of maintenance can cause an injury when you least expect it.

The good news is that owners are bound by premises liability law to keep their property safe and when they don’t, they may have to pay out significant damages.

If you were injured on someone else’s property due to the property owner’s fault, you have legal options. The attorneys at Hochfelsen & Kani can help you build a case and secure damages to pay for your medical expenses, lost wages, and suffering.

Our lawyers have been helping injured people and their families throughout Los Angeles and Southern California for more than three decades. If you believe you have a premises liability claim on your hands, we may be able to help you, too.

Contact us today to discuss your case in a no-cost, no-obligation confidential attorney consultation.

What Is Premises Liability and How Does it Apply in Los Angeles and Orange Counties?

Under California law, anyone who owns, occupies or otherwise manages property has a legal “duty of care” to keep the property reasonably safe for visitors. Landlords, owners, and commercial tenants are required to:

  • Repair potentially dangerous problems, and
  • Inspect and maintain the property regularly, and
  • Warn people of any dangers.

If someone is harmed while visiting a commercial property, a public space, a house or an apartment complex, the landlord or landholder may be held liable and required to pay substantial damages when someone is injured or killed.

Premises liability is a broad area of law and it takes an experienced lawyer to understand the specifics of an individual premises liability case. If you believe you have a basis for a lawsuit, working with an attorney deeply knowledgeable about these cases will help ensure you get the outcome you deserve.

Where Does Premises Liability Apply and Who Can File a Lawsuit?

Premises liability laws apply to virtually every type of commercial space, including restaurants, bars, retail stores, hotels, pools, stadiums, gyms and offices. Most premises liability lawsuits are filed against these types of defendants.

Contrary to common belief, it is also possible to sue the government for injuries sustained on public sidewalks, roads and government buildings. There are barriers that make filing a lawsuit against the government challenging, but not impossible.  

Premises liability laws apply to residential buildings as well. Homeowners and apartment owners are responsible for their guests’ safety and can be held liable for their injuries.

The exception is when there are “latent defects,” dangerous conditions (usually created by a construction company) that are unknown to the tenant until they are revealed through long-term use.

Finally, in some cases, entities that perform a service on behalf of the property manager can be named in a lawsuit. For example, a cleaning company that leaves the floor slippery or a security firm that fails to protect patrons can be sued for premises liability, even if they aren’t responsible for the property itself.

These Types of Injuries Can Be Grounds for a Lawsuit in California

There are a wide variety of dangerous conditions that can trigger a premises liability lawsuit. Commonly, this includes:

  • Slip and fall incidents
  • Unsafe buildings or equipment
  • Defective elevators and escalators
  • Assaults due to negligent security
  • Pool injuries and drowning
  • Lead paint poisoning
  • Amusement park mishaps
  • Fires and explosions
  • Dog and animal attacks
  • Exposure to toxic fumes

If you have suffered an injury because of one of these or any similar circumstance, you may have the grounds to file a lawsuit. Hochfelsen & Kani can help you determine whether you have a viable case. In most premises liability injury cases, we will handle your case “on contingency” meaning we advance all legal expenses and work; then we do not get paid unless we win – typically a percentage of the settlement or verdict at trial.

Contact our Newport Beach office to find out more.

Plaintiffs (the injured party and sometimes their family) Fall into One of Three Categories

Three types of plaintiffs can sue for premises liability:

  1. Invitees: Someone who has permission to enter the property through a direct or implied invitation. This could be someone invited to a friend’s house for dinner or a customer entering an open store. The property manager has a responsibility for the invitee’s safety and can be sued if that duty is breached.
  2. Licensee: Someone who is allowed to enter the property, but they do so primarily for their own purpose (for example, a vacuum salesperson entering someone’s house). In most cases, the property manager still has a clear duty of care to protect the licensee’s safety.
  3. Trespasser: Someone who enters the property without permission. Usually, property managers have limited responsibility for the trespasser’s safety, and the trespasser has no basis for a lawsuit. However, there are exceptions. In cases where a child is injured after intentionally or accidentally wandering onto a property, there may well be a premises liability claim.

How the Court Will Evaluate Your Lawsuit

To win a premises liability case, the plaintiff must prove three things: first, that the defendant had a duty to maintain a safe environment; second, that it breached that duty; and third, that the defendant’s negligence directly caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

At trial and in settlement negotiations, there are 3 primary considerations:

  1. Were the risks foreseeable? (Was the danger obvious or easily discovered)
  2. Is the owner legally responsible?
  3. How will imposing a duty of care on the defendant affect the community? (What will the outcome of this case mean for other property owners?)

This is why it’s important to have an experienced premises liability lawyer on your side. Our skilled attorneys craft a strong argument on your behalf (often after our investigators have gathered all possible evidence and interviewed witnesses), negotiate with the responsible party and their insurance company, thus ultimately, maximizing your chances of getting the best possible outcome.

Our attorneys have helped clients across Orange County, LA County and throughout California secure exceptional settlements and jury verdicts in numerous premises liability cases.

Contact us today for a free case evaluation and learn your options.

Injured Parties Can Be Compensated with Significant Damages

If you file a lawsuit to recover damages for your injuries, you have a solid chance of getting a positive outcome - and those chances increase if you have an experienced and aggressive legal team, including investigators, and medical professionals.

Courts may award damages to pay for:

  • Current and future medical expenses
  • Lost income and earning capacity
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Pain and suffering
  • Other closely related damages

In extreme cases, the court may also order punitive damages intended to punish the defendant.

Since California is a comparative negligence state, plaintiffs can recover damages even if they are partially at fault for their injuries. The court will determine each party’s percentage of fault and adjust damages accordingly.

Even if you believe you played a role in causing your injuries, don’t let that prevent you from pursuing a case.

What You Should Do If You’re Injured on Someone Else’s Property

  • Don’t leave until you’ve reported the injury.Tell the property owner or manager immediately and, if applicable, ask them to file an incident report (which you should also get a copy of). If you leave without alerting someone responsible for the premises, it will be much more difficult to establish your case.
  • Collect names of witnesses. Write down names and contact information for any witnesses, whether they are other customers, employees, bystanders or friends. You may need to call on them later to provide their testimony.
  • Gather evidence of what happened. Write down extensive notes and take pictures, if possible. The hazard that caused your injury will likely be fixed shortly after, and you can never recover that evidence.
  • Seek medical attention. Get a diagnosis (and second opinion, if necessary). Select your own medical professionals, you are not obligated to go to doctors selected by an insurance adjuster no matter how much they may try to bully or bluster you into believing they have that right.
  • Get a lawyer. Look for a trustworthy attorney who has a history of securing positive settlements and verdicts for premises liability clients.
  • Don’t sign your rights away. Never sign any documents or cash a check from the defendant’s insurance company without consulting your lawyer. In fact, your best bet is to select an attorney before any contact with an insurance company representative. They are NOT there to help you. They are there to minimize how much the company must pay. Speaking to their representative can jeopardize your chances of getting the compensation you deserve.

At Hockfelsen & Kani, we treat every case individually and every client as if they are a family member. We have the reputation of going to trial and winning so insurance companies will be more likely to settle for a fair compensation to avoid the risk of facing us in a courtroom.

Call us or Connect Online Now, there are strict time limits to make your claim and if you miss them, you may waive your rights.

David Kani & Steve Hochfelsen are represented by Elite Lawyer Management, managing agents for America's best attorneys.