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San Bernardino Premises Liability Attorneys

According to California law, property owners owe a legal duty to visitors to maintain properties in a reasonably safe condition. When careless owners do not uphold this legal obligation, dangerous accidents can occur. In such instances, visitors may suffer a wide range of costly, painful, and sometimes fatal injuries that open homeowners and business owners up to financial liability.

If you have suffered injuries as a result of a negligent property owner in San Bernardino, California law gives you the right to take legal action to recover compensation for damages related to your injuries, as long as you file a lawsuit within two years from the date of injury. You should not have to cope with the financial burden that comes with serious injuries because of a careless property owner.

Contact the skilled premises liability lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys for a free case evaluation. Share your story with one of our team members who can evaluate the viability of your claim and advise you on the best course of action to recover compensation for your injuries. You should contact Gomez Trial Attorneys online or by calling (619) 237-3490.

Duty of Care to Visitors in San Bernardino Premises Liability Cases

Many states divide visitors into three categories for legal purposes: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. The duty of care that a landowner owes visitors varies based on their status. California, however, takes a more holistic approach that looks at the entire situation without depending on visitor status.

Ultimately, winning your case will depend on whether you can prove that the property owner acted negligently. In premises liability cases, business owners can also be negligent and liable, even if they don’t own the property, and so can anyone who occupies or controls a particular space, structure, or building.

To establish negligence, you must prove:

  • The defendant owned, leased, occupied, or controlled the property, establishing a duty of care to the injured person.
  • The defendant violated that duty of care by failing to properly maintain the property.
  • The defendant’s failure caused the visitor’s accident.
  • Due to that accident, the visitor suffered injuries and damages.

A duty of care must exist for a property owner to be negligent.

Instead of relying on visitor status to define that duty, California courts evaluate the following information to establish whether a duty of care exists and whether the owner used reasonable care to maintain that duty:

  • The property’s location
  • The chances that another person would come on to the property as the injured visitor did
  • The chances that a visitor might be harmed
  • The probable severity of any harm
  • Whether the owner knew or should have known of the hazard or dangerous condition
  • How difficult it would have been for the owner to eliminate the hazard or dangerous condition
  • The extent to which the owner has control over the dangerous condition
  • Other relevant factors

California’s Definition of Unsafe Conditions

Several factors above speak to the idea of unsafe conditions and how lawyers, insurance companies, and courts in California view it through a legal lens. Generally, unsafe conditions must exist for the owner to be negligent and financially liable for your injuries.

Under California law, these three elements must be present to constitute unsafe conditions:

  • Reasonable people would agree that conditions on the property posed an unacceptable risk for injuries.
  • The owner knew about the condition or should have known about it.
  • The owner did not fix or repair the dangerous condition, protect visitors from the risk, or warn them of the hazard.

The law does allow for situations where conditions are obviously unsafe and anyone would notice. In these cases, the person who owns or controls the property does not need to warn visitors, but still must protect against potential harm for those who encounter the danger out of necessity.

Defendants in San Bernardino Premises Liability Claims

Thus far, we’ve primarily referred to the defendant as the owner or property owner and only briefly mentioned that others can be liable.

If you suffer injuries on someone else’s property, one or more of the following individuals might face liability for damages related to your injuries:

  • Homeowners
  • Business owners and/or their employees
  • Renters or tenants
  • Property management companies
  • Parent companies
  • Shopping centers

San Bernardino Premises Liability Claims Involve a Variety of Situations

Going on to someone else’s property can result in a wide array of injuries if the owner has been negligent in maintaining the property. Accident victims might suffer head traumas, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, back injuries, and many other severe, sometimes fatal, injuries. Some types of premises liability accidents and injuries occur more often than others. Some of the most common include:

Unintentional Falls

The most common type of premises liability accidents include: slip and falls, trip and falls, and other types of unintentional falls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about one in five falls results in severe injuries, such as multiple fractures and traumatic brain injuries.

Elderly adults and toddlers, both of whom often have balance issues, are especially at risk when careless property owners do not fix or remove dangerous conditions that lead to falls. The CDC also states that close to three million people visit emergency rooms for injuries related to falls each year across the nation, including 800,000 hospitalizations.

Many types of hazards put people at risk for slip and fall or trip and fall accidents, including the following:

  • Buildings with old or loose floor coverings, stairs, or handrails
  • Uncleared trash or debris from sidewalks, storefronts, and parking lots
  • Falling debris and other items on construction sites
  • Wet and dry spills of water, food, vehicle fluids, soil, and sand
  • Wet and dry product use, such as floor wax, floor cleaners, granules, and powders
  • Poorly maintained boardwalks, trails, sidewalks, and other walkways

Swimming Pool Accidents

There is no shortage of public or private swimming pools in Southern California. The sunny weather means time at the pool is a way of life for many residents in the area. Those who visit the area likely want to find lodging with a pool, too. Hotels, water theme parks, and other pool owners who do not maintain their swimming pools and surrounding areas put users at risk for harm or death, especially children.

According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 140 children age 13 and under die from drowning in swimming pools each summer across the United States. This tragic statistic does not account for non-fatal pool injuries or adults. Hotels, theme parks, homeowners, and even the City of San Bernardino all own swimming pools and thus are responsible for the upkeep of those pools.

Unsafe conditions near swimming pools that can lead to severe accidents and injuries include:

  • Poor maintenance and inspection of ladders, steps, pumps, filters, diving boards, handrails, and slides
  • Poor cleaning and maintenance of concrete and tiles in and around a swimming pool
  • Overcrowding that makes it difficult for lifeguards or others to watch for swimmers in distress
  • Failure to erect a fence or barrier to keep small children away from wandering into a pool area
  • Lack of adult supervision or lifeguard, especially when teenagers or little ones are in the pool

Escalator/Elevator Accidents

Office buildings, shopping malls, hotels, LAX, and other places in and near San Bernardino have escalators and/or elevators, providing convenience for visitors, so they don’t need to scale several flights of stairs. Similarly, those with disabilities and mobility issues appreciate the accessibility provided by escalators and elevators. However, when negligent property owners fail to inspect and perform regular maintenance on these machines, they put users at risk for serious injuries.

Some examples of mechanical failures and situations that sometimes result in escalators and elevator accidents include:

  • Sudden elevator drops and sudden escalator stops
  • Improper or infrequent inspections of machinery
  • Failure to perform preventative maintenance
  • Malfunctioning elevator doors
  • Uneven landings in elevators
  • Escalator side-step entrapment

Inadequate Building Security

Maintaining a safe environment for visitors also includes protecting them from third-party criminal acts, which means providing adequate security. Owners who do not have adequate security open themselves up to financial liability for damages when a visitor suffers an assault on their properties. Every building and property is different, so what is adequate for one place sometimes is not always sufficient for another.

Examples of security issues that can lead to an individual suffering harm from criminals include:

  • Poorly trained or missing security guards
  • Improper or inadequate lighting, especially in parking garages, parking lots, entryways, and hallways
  • Malfunctioning or missing security cameras
  • Inadequate security patrols
  • Improper or missing locks on doors and windows
  • Lack of security alarms to warn of intruders

Building Fires

A wide array of substances and dangerous conditions can ignite a fire or cause an explosion. Examples include faulty electrical wiring, lit cigarettes, and gas leaks. If a fire ignited as a result of negligence, a California court might find the property owner financially liable for damages from a building fire and related injuries. Burn injuries are among the most costly personal injuries because burn victims often need skin grafts and other corrective surgery.

Additionally, those who suffer severe burns typically need to spend months in a burn unit while their bodies heal. Even after surgery, many burn victims face permanent scarring. Fortunately, building fires occur less frequently than other kinds of premises liability accidents. However, when fires do occur, the consequences are severe and often fatal.

Seeking Damages in a San Bernardino Premises Liability Case

If you have sustained injuries on someone else’s property as a result of the property owner’s negligence, California law allows you to sue for damages related to your injuries.

If you reach an agreement with the defendants’ insurance company or if the court rules in your favor, you may receive compensation for the following damages and losses related to your injuries:

  • Medical expenses, such as an ambulance ride, emergency room visit, doctor visits, hospital stay, surgery, diagnostic imaging, follow-up care, and prescription medication
  • Estimated future medical expenses when a premises liability accident results in a permanent injury that requires ongoing treatment and care
  • Lost wages for missing work for weeks or months after an injury
  • Estimated future lost wages when a premises liability accident leads to severe injuries that render it impossible for a victim to return to their job or seek future employment
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of consortium
  • Decreased quality of life
  • Scarring and/or disfigurement
  • Punitive damages in extreme cases of negligence or willful harm against a visitor

California law also permits eligible survivors to bring a wrongful death suit and/or a survival action against a negligent property owner who caused the death of a loved one. Taking action can result in compensation for some of the damages above as well as burial and funeral expenses. Depending on your relationship with the lost loved one, you might also receive non-economic damages related to your relationship with the deceased.

For example, you might receive compensation for loss of companionship, and your minor children might receive compensation for lost parental support and guidance. California requires a representative of a decedent’s estate to file a survival action on behalf of the surviving family members, so it’s in your family’s best interest to hire a premises liability lawyer who can lead you through the process.

Your San Bernardino premises liability attorney can answer your questions about a wrongful death lawsuit and advise you on the best course of action given your specific circumstances.

Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys’ San Bernardino Premises Liability Lawyers Today

If you’ve suffered injuries as a result of a negligent property owner, business owner, landlord, or another party, you should seek compensation for your injuries. The award-winning legal team at Gomez Trial Attorneys understands the struggles you face in the coming weeks and months, and we want to help. We represent clients in the San Bernardino area and throughout Southern California.

Contact us online or at (619) 237-3490 for a free consultation and to discuss the events that led to your injuries and devise the best strategy for moving forward.

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