Oakland Premises Liability Lawyer
Property owners have a legal responsibility to protect innocent members of the public in Oakland. Unfortunately, many of these property owners fail to do this, leaving victims in California injured. In some cases, the negligence of property owners can even cause deaths.
Fortunately, there is a legal process in place that allows you to hold these property owners accountable. Injured victims can file an insurance claim against the at-fault party and receive a settlement that covers their damages. These damages might include lost wages, medical bills, and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Alternatively, individuals can file a lawsuit against the property owner. In this situation, a judge and jury will decide the amount of compensation to which you are legally entitled.
If you wish to take legal action against a negligent property owner, it is always a good idea to work with a qualified, experienced personal injury attorney. When you work with a legal expert who thoroughly understands the various premises liability laws and regulations in California, it becomes much easier to obtain a fair, adequate settlement amount for your damages. This is why it is so important to choose a firm that specializes specifically in premises liability cases, such as Mary Alexander & Associates.
What Negligent Actions Might a Property Owner Take?
There is a range of different negligent actions (or inactions) that a property owner might take which endanger the safety of others. There is not a specific definition as to what might constitute negligence on the part of a property owner. As long as an attorney can prove that they acted in an unreasonable manner and endangered the safety of others, courts can find these property owners negligent and award settlements to victims. Here are a few examples:
- Hazardous Walking Conditions: Perhaps the most common reason for a premises liability lawsuit is if a property owner creates or allows hazardous walking conditions. In a colder state, this might include ice and snow on a sidewalk. In California, this is more likely to include spills, wet floors, and debris scattered across a path in an unsafe manner.
- Falling Objects: This type of negligence is common in construction sites. Innocent pedestrians might be walking past a construction site in Oakland before being struck by a falling object. Heavy winds can cause objects to come loose and fall long distances. These scenarios have the potential to seriously injure or even kill members of the public.
- Improper Maintenance: A property owner has a responsibility to properly maintain their property, especially if those areas see heavy foot traffic. A classic example is a faulty elevator that the property owner does not fix. People may fall down shafts or get caught in machinery as a result. In addition, negligent property owners often fail to fix broken stairs. This can cause very serious injuries when people trip and fall down flights of stairs.
- Lack of Security: In certain instances, property owners may also be responsible for providing the public with security. This is especially true if there is widespread knowledge of crime and violence in the immediate vicinity. For example, an owner of a bar might be considered negligent if they fail to break up fights and disputes with security personnel. The same may apply to a parking lot in a dangerous neighborhood.
- Dog Bites: Dog bites are slightly more complicated when it comes to premises liability law in California, but they do apply to the same general principles of negligence by property owners. If an owner of a house leaves a dangerous dog in their yard with the full knowledge that it could break free and bite someone, they may be considered negligent in court.
This is by no means a complete list of all the various examples of negligence on the part of a property owner. If you feel that a property owner has caused your injuries, you should pursue legal action and consult with an attorney.
What is Duty of Care? – The concept of “duty of care” is very important to understand if you are pursuing a premises liability lawsuit or claim. In order to receive compensation, you and your attorney must prove that the property owner owed you a duty of care. So what does this mean?
It all comes down to the often-ambiguous (and intentionally-open ended) legal definition of a “reasonable person.” In California courts, this hypothetical “reasonable person” is expected to act in a certain manner, especially if they own property. To determine whether or not a property owner owed you a duty of care, courts in California compare their actions to this theoretical “reasonable individual.”
If the property owner’s actions (or inactions) are in line with the hypothetical actions of a “reasonable” property owner, it is assumed that they did not fail in their duty of care. However, if the property owner fails to adhere to the standards set by a “reasonable property owner,” it is assumed that they failed in their duty of care. In other words, there is a high chance they could be liable for your injuries.
Predictably, the definition of a “reasonable person” is often challenged by both the defendant and plaintiff in a premises liability lawsuit. The defendant will argue that the property owner was acting in a reasonable manner, while the plaintiff will argue that they failed to act in a reasonable manner. Because there is no clear-cut definition of what constitutes a “reasonable individual,” it is often left up to the judge and jury to decide whether a duty of care existed and whether it was breached.
Establishing Negligence – It is important to note that establishing that the defendant breached their duty of care is only one piece of a larger puzzle. This overall puzzle involves establishing negligence on the part of the property owner, and it has four “parts” that your attorney needs to piece together:
- Duty of Care: This is exactly what we have already explained above. Did the property owner owe you a duty of care?
- Breach: If the property owner did owe you a duty of care, you and your attorney need to go one step further. Did they fail to abide by that duty of care? Again, we already covered this above.
- Causation: If your attorney establishes the first two elements of negligence, they still need to connect the dots. The property owner may have breached their duty of care to you, but did that failure lead directly to your injury?
- Damages: If everything else has been established, you can show the court proof of your injuries or damages. You will need medical documents, evidence of lost wages, and anything else that might be relevant. You will need to prove that you actually suffered damages in order to receive compensation. This is why it is so important to get the medical attention you need as soon as possible. Not only is it important for your health, but it also creates written medical records that you can use as evidence.
When you visit someone’s property, the premises should be safe. In fact, the property owner has a legal obligation to maintain his safe premises. Unfortunately, hidden hazards and poorly-maintained property can quickly lead to injury. When this happens, you may have the right to pursue monetary compensation through a civil lawsuit.
When an accident occurs on another person’s premises, our skilled personal injury attorneys can prove to be valuable resources. With the guidance of legal counsel, you may be able to identify the responsible parties in your claim. Additionally, our Oakland premises liability lawyers can help you seek the financial compensation you need to recover from your injuries and other losses.
Defendants in a Premises Liability Case
Most premises liability lawsuits are brought against the owner of the property where an accident occurred. However, it is important to note that there may be other individuals or entities that also may face liability. With the help of our premises liability attorneys in Oakland, a plaintiff may be able to bring a suit against other potentially liable parties, such as those who own, lease, , or control the property in question.
In some cases, there could be multiple parties that may face responsibility for an accident. Generally, property owners cannot waive or delegate their duty to maintain a reasonably safe property. If the property owner delegates this legal obligation to an employee, both the owner and the employee may be liable.
Time Limit to File Suit
The statute of limitations is a deadline that prevents a potential claimant from filing a lawsuit if the lawsuit is brought after a specific amount of time. This time limit differs depending on the type of legal action that a person is pursuing. In general, for premises liability claims, a plaintiff must file his/her claim within two years of the date of the accident.
Should someone file a suit after the deadline expires, the court may likely dismiss the claim and the plaintiff may lose the chance to seek compensation. Our lawyers in Oakland can work to ensure that an individual files his/her premises liability claim before the legal deadline.
Property Liability Claims Against Government Entities
Much like with privately-owned property, a person may have a claim for injuries they suffer on public property as well. However, these claims are subject to different legal standards than those claims concerning injuries occurring on privately owned property.
One major difference is the time limit to file suit. Instead of the standard two-year statute of limitations, a claimant only has six months from the date the injury occurs to first file a government claim form against a city, county, or state government. After the claim form is filed, the claimant can file suit. However, without first filing a government claim form within six months of the date of injury, a claimant can be barred from being able to file suit in a court of law.
Prevailing at trial against a government entity can be more challenging than prevailing against a regular defendant, such as in a case involving injury sustained on privately owned property. In addition to showing the public property contained a dangerous condition, a plaintiff also must establish either: negligent conduct by an employee of the government entity or that the government entity had constructive or actual notice of the hazard. Our Oakland lawyers can help an individual prepare a case if he/she sustained injuries on public property.
Consult an Oakland Premises Liability Attorney
Whether your injury occurred on private or publicly-owned property, you may have a viable claim for monetary compensation. However, the challenges you face in proving your case may vary dramatically, depending on the owner of the property.
To ensure that you comply with all legal requirements, discuss your case with our Oakland premises liability lawyers as soon as possible. Call Mary Alexander & Associates to set up your initial case consultation.
If you are considering holding a negligent property owner accountable for his/her reckless actions, you should reach out to a qualified, experienced personal injury attorney in Oakland as soon as possible. While your first priority should always be to receive fast and adequate treatment for your injuries, you should also consider your legal options as soon as you are able. With the right legal team at your side, you can fight for your rights and receive significant compensation. We understand how troubling it can be to suffer injuries due to someone else’s negligence. Reach out to Mary Alexander & Associates as soon as possible, and we can develop an action plan together.