Premises Liability Attorneys in Orange County
Understanding California Premises Liability Law
Property owners in California are expected to foresee, recognize and resolve potential safety hazards. They have a responsibility to keep their premises safe for visitors, tenants, and guests. Obviously, landlords or renters are not responsible for every accident that occurs on their premises, but they can be found responsible for accidents and injuries as a result of their failure to provide reasonably safe conditions.
In personal liability cases, the term “premises” is used to identify a place, parcel of land, or structure that is owned, leased, or legally occupied by a person (or persons) with a vested interest in the property.
California’s premises liability regulations hold business owners, city municipalities, and property owners liable for injuries that occur on their properties, if the injured individual can prove:
- That the owner’s actions (intentional or unintentional) caused the unsafe condition that led to the injury.
- That the owner knew of the dangerous condition, but made no effort to repair the damage or otherwise failed to prevent an accident from happening.
- That the owner should have known about the dangerous condition.
- That the defect or dangerous condition caused your injury.
Property owners have both a legal and ethical responsibility to either repair or provide notice of any known dangers on their premises. By law, a property owner must regularly inspect the property for conditions that could cause harm; as such, they might be held responsible for injuries that result from dangers that they should have known about, but did not.
The attorneys at Aitken * Aitken * Cohn have handled hundreds of premises liability cases. If you suspect someone else may be legally responsible for your recent accident, reach out to us, particularly if you were:
- A customer, client, patient, or patron in a business establishment
- A visitor in someone’s home
- A tourist visiting a local attraction
- A delivery or repair service person
- And in certain instances, even a trespasser
Not all negligence is treated equally, and situations involving liability are often complicated. Some states, including California, have instituted legal doctrines aimed at equitably distributing blame for negligence. Under California law, courts take into consideration whether a plaintiff contributed to his or her own injuries in any way. An experienced legal professional will evaluate your particular situation and determine whether you are eligible to seek compensation.
Various Premises Liability Claims
Accidents can happen anywhere, and the scope of premises liability law is wide and varied. Negligence may apply in situations such as:
A slip and fall accident caused by:
- Wet or slippery floors
- Uneven or broken sidewalk
- Stairways in bad repair
- Poor lighting
- Debris in walkways
- Overly worn carpet or tile
- Broken or inadequate handrails
- Loose or broken stairs
- Loose electrical cords
- Area rugs
Defective or broken equipment such as:
- Broken escalator or elevator
- Defective swimming pool pump
- Unsafe electrical wiring
- Faulty rehabilitation or exercise equipment
Assaults due to:
- Poorly lit parking lots
- Lack of locked doors
- Broken security cameras
Illness/injury caused by:
- Toxic conditions
- Dangerous materials
- Unclean air filters
- Lead-based paint
- Outdoor seasonal decorations
Preventable Accidents Can Occur Almost Anywhere
Although some are preventable, accidents can happen anywhere, anytime, for any reason. Amusement parks, playgrounds, recreation areas, schools, hotels, college dorms, nightclubs, concert venues, and hospitals are common scenes for serious accidents. One of the most increasingly complex areas of premises liability law is construction site injury. Some of the more common construction site injuries include:
- Falling debris
- Lack of hazardous warning signs
Workers’ compensation regulations, as well as the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) standards, can seriously impact personal injury claims. An experienced attorney will be able to determine what claims you may be eligible to file given the circumstances of your accident.
Common Premises Liability Injuries
Some of the most common injuries involved in premises liability cases include:
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries, although common after a fall, may not be visible or otherwise present themselves until some time after the accident. Soft tissue injuries include sprains and tears in muscles and ligaments, and they have the potential to cause chronic pain.
You should always consider a head injury as an emergency, regardless of how insignificant it may seem at the time of the accident. Seek immediate medical care, especially if you have a loss of consciousness. A traumatic brain injury can leave a victim with a broad spectrum of complex symptoms, and may result in lifetime disability.
Although usually self-limiting, lacerations, abrasions, and puncture wounds can potentially lead to serious infections, such as lockjaw, necrotizing fasciitis, and cellulitis.
Broken bones are common in slip and fall accidents. While some broken bones can heal with immobility and rest, more serious breaks may require surgery, and they can leave a victim with permanent scars and disfigurement.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The physical and financial statistics from the Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center are staggering. Spinal cord injuries are frequently life-threatening and can cost up to one million dollars or more in the first year to treat.
All of the above injuries may require:
- Lifelong medical care
- Lengthy hospitalization
- Long term medications
- In-home medical equipment
- Home health care
- Alternative living conditions.
The legal team at Aitken * Aitken * Cohn understands the complexities involved in premises liability cases. Catastrophic injuries can leave victims with lifelong disabilities or even result in fatality. At Aitken * Aitken * Cohn, we have significant experience representing individuals in premises liability claims, and our past results are indicative of our hard work.
Wrongful Death Claims
Losing a loved one in any type of accident is overwhelming. The family members left behind are often ill-equipped to deal with the immediate impact of the moment, much less worry about their legal options moving forward. At Aitken * Aitken * Cohn, we understand that no amount of money will compensate you for the loss of a loved one, but securing compensation for important expenses will go a long way in reducing your stress and anxiety about the future. Our California personal injury attorneys can advise you and your family about the legal options available to you following a fatal accident. Read more about wrongful death claims in California here.
Contact us today for a no-cost, no-obligation evaluation of your case. Time is an important consideration when contemplating whether to initiate a claim. California law generally imposes a two year statute of limitations for personal injury claims, which means that you need to file any claim within two years from the date of your accident if you hope to recover compensation.
California law also provides public entities additional levels of protection and imposes different procedures when filing a claim against a public entity. While it is sometimes possible to receive compensation for injuries sustained on public property, you must file a letter of intent within six months. Your attorney will be able to determine what type of claim you need to file.
What to Do After an Accident
Following any accident on someone else’s property, be proactive and protect your legal rights. Document the incident; note the date, time, weather conditions, and circumstances surrounding the accident. Also, consider the following:
- Not all injuries are immediately apparent after an accident. Do not assume that you are not hurt. As soon as possible following your accident, have a medical evaluation for potential long-term problems.
- Notify the property owner or manager of your injury, and ask for a written acknowledgment regarding the injury.
- Do not risk losing evidence that might support a claim. Take photos (with a date and time stamp) of the incident scene, your injuries, and any property damage.
- Record the names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident.
- With the exception of law enforcement officials and your attorney, do not discuss the incident with anyone. Don’t post details or remarks about the accident on any social media platforms.
California premises liability lawsuits may include compensation for a variety of costs related to your injury. A claim will likely include economic damages, such as:
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
California law defines “lost earning capacity” as the difference between what a victim would have earned but for the injury and what he or she is now able to earn following the injury. Although this area of law is complicated, it may be possible to recover monetary compensation for:
- Overtime wages
- Commissions, bonuses, and raises that a victim would have received
- The value of vacation, personal, and sick days
- Profit sharing contributions
- Use of a company vehicle
- Free or discounted meals
A plaintiff can establish the magnitude of his or her lost earning capacity through testimony and documentation, including:
- An employer’s account of the victim’s past history, performance, and the probability of future opportunities.
- Medical reports detailing the before and after health status of the victim, and how the injuries have affected his or her ability to work.
- A vocational rehabilitation expert can justify the need for extensive treatment.
- A financial expert, or economist, can predict salary trends with regard to potential future earnings.
- Statements from friends, family, and coworkers.
A premises liability claim also may involve non-economic damages, which do not involve direct out-of-pocket costs, but focus on subjective issues, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Physical impairment
- Loss of life enjoyment
With over four decades of experience, our nationally recognized attorneys at Aitken * Aitken * Cohn understand the importance of gathering objective evidence to substantiate claims. We take on the insurance companies armed with:
- X-ray reports
- Photos of physical injuries
- Detailed doctors’ and therapists’ notes
- Testimony of friends, coworkers, and family
- Evidence of lost work time
We Know How to Determine the Value of Your Claim
Insurance companies are not altruistic in nature, and they do not turn a profit by paying out claims. Make no mistake, they will do everything in their power to discredit your case, downplay your injuries, and minimize your compensation.
The property owner’s lawyer and insurance company representatives will likely argue that if you had exercised reasonable care, you could have avoided the accident altogether. This can be a strong and powerful defense, which is why you need an aggressive advocate on your side. When dealing with your claim, keep in mind that defendant insurance companies:
- Want to pay as little as possible for your personal injury
- May try to blame you for the accident
- Could misuse your medical records
Do not speak with an insurance company representative following an accident. Whatever you say could be used against you. Exercise your right to remain silent, as you are under no legal obligation to give a recorded statement. Leave dealing with the insurance company and its attorneys to your attorney.
To close a claim and avoid lengthy litigation, an insurance carrier may quickly try to offer a settlement early on in the investigation process. Before accepting, give yourself every possible opportunity to determine the full value of your claim.
Call Aitken * Aitken * Cohn for Help
Having an experienced attorney on your side can prove extremely beneficial. Premises liability cases and other personal injury claims are complex and complicated, even when they involve fairly straightforward accidents, such as a slip and fall. At Aitken * Aitken * Cohn, our attorneys understand exactly what evidence will maximize your financial recovery. You need an expert fighting for you throughout your settlement negotiations.
An attorney will navigate the system for you and keep the process running smoothly and efficiently. It’s often the details that make the difference, such as accurately evaluating the situation and properly documenting:
- The extent of your injuries
- Your functional limitations
- Past and future medical expenses
- Your need for, and right to, temporary or permanent home modifications
If you choose Aitken * Aitken * Cohn to represent you in your premises liability claim, and we are able to, your attorney will:
- Act as your liaison with property owners and insurance carriers
- Gather and evaluate relevant evidence
- Depose experts
- Represent you in court
- Strive to maximize compensation for your pain and suffering
If you’ve sustained injuries in an accident that occurred on someone else’s property, and you think it could have been prevented, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your injuries. Choosing the right personal injury lawyer may be a deciding factor in your case. Contact Aitken * Aitken * Cohn at (714) 434-1424, or online, to schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys today.