There is no set amount of time in Los Angeles that a hazard needs to be present on a property for its owner to be found liable for an injury suffered as a result of the hazard. Property owners have a legal obligation to ensure that anyone who enters their property is safe from harm due to hazards on the premises. This standard applies to all elements of all properties, from the floors and shelves of a retail store to elevators in an office building to the components of rides at a theme park.
Rather than a specific time frame for the hazard to have been present, the law focuses on whether the property owner was aware of the hazard and had reasonable time to fix it. Some types of evidence that may be used to determine whether the owner knew of the hazard include:
- If any previous complaints were registered.
- If the danger is obvious.
- Whether anyone previously suffered injuries due to the hazard.
- If they made attempts to fix the issue, however unsuccessful.
If a hazard cannot be fixed right away, property owners are legally obligated to post a warning to anyone visiting the site that they are at risk of injury. If there is no such warning for any hazards, the property owner is likely responsible for any injuries suffered as a result. However, California Civil Code (CIV) § 1714 does provide for some exceptions, such as if an accident was caused by alcohol consumption.
Owner’s Liability for Injuries Due to Hazards on Their Property
If someone’s negligence resulted in an injury to you, you are legally entitled to pursue financial compensation for your pain and suffering, property damages, medical expenses, and other losses. Since there is no fixed time for how long a hazard needs to be present for a property owner to be found liable, the legal system focuses on four main criteria when determining liability:
- Duty: This refers to a premises owner’s obligation to maintain safe conditions on their property.
- Breach of duty: A legal proceeding must then establish that the premises owner failed to maintain safe conditions or repair unsafe conditions on their property.
- Injury: The sufferer of the injury must prove that they were hurt as a direct result of the owner’s negligence.
- Causation: The harm the individual suffered must have led to real damages (e.g., medical bills, lost wages).
Who is ultimately responsible for the harm suffered can also vary widely depending on the individual circumstances of the injury. For instance, if you suffer a slip and fall injury at a chain store, the employee who mopped the floor, the manager who oversaw that employee, and the company itself may all be responsible. If, however, you fell down a broken staircase in a private residence, it is possible that just the homeowner would be responsible. If that same injury occurred in an apartment complex, liability could rest with the property management company and the contractor who built the stairs.
Types of Hazards that May Cause Injury
Here are some potential hazards that can be found on a property for which the owner may be held legally responsible if you suffer an injury:
- Faulty wiring
- Defective sidewalks or other outside walking surfaces
- Wet floors from recent mopping or liquid spills
- Dim or otherwise improper lighting
- Poorly constructed staircase
- Malfunctioning escalator or elevator
- Falling objects
- Leaking roofs/ceilings
- Torn, piled, or otherwise damaged carpeting
- Holes in floors
- Protruding sharp objects
Next Steps After Suffering an Injury on Someone Else’s Property
If a hazard on someone else’s property injures you or a loved one, follow these steps to ensure your rights are protected and that you have the grounds to pursue legal action if necessary:
- Document the hazard: If your injury is not severe enough that you are unable to take pictures of the hazard, do so before you leave the scene. If you do not, there is a chance the liable party can remove evidence of their responsibility.
- Seek medical care: Your health and safety are always of the utmost importance, so seek a doctor’s attention immediately after suffering any injury. Doing so also helps establish physical records as proof of the accident and how it affected you.
- Document damages to you or your property: In addition to photos of any injuries you suffer, document any property (e.g., your cell phone) that may have been damaged in the accident.
- Report the hazard: Contact the property owner as soon as you are able to inform them of the hazard and your injury. It may help to speak with a lawyer before taking this step so you can avoid saying anything that could jeopardize your chances of getting compensation.
The California statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years, according to California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) §335.1, so you should contact an attorney for help as soon as possible so you do not lose your right to recover compensation.
How Pintas & Mullins Law Firm Can Help You
If you suffered an injury on someone else’s property through no fault of your own, the team at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm is here for you. We could be able to help you win financial compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Costs to replace your property
- Lost wages
- Mental or emotional pain and suffering
- Other losses
Contact us at (800) 223-5115 for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation to determine your best options. Remember that we only get paid if you win, so you will not owe us any money upfront if you decide to hire us for your case.