Premises Liability essentially means you were injured by a dangerous condition located on another’s property, a dangerous condition that the landowner is responsible for and should not have been but for the negligence of the property owner in maintaining their property.
Jury Instructions define it as follows.
Plaintiff claims that he was harmed because of the way defendant managed his / her property. To establish this claim, plaintiff must prove the following:
- That defendant owned /leased / occupied / controlled the property
- That defendant was negligent in the use or maintenance of the property
- That plaintiff was harmed
- That defendant’s negligence was the cause of plaintiff’s harm
Examples of premises liability cases would be a grocery store that doesn’t check their isles or sweep to clean and a customer slips on a broken jar of pickles and fractures his / her elbow. Or, a pedestrian walking down the street trips on a raised slab of concrete and breaks his / her wrist. The concrete was raised because of the tree growing next to it and the landowner did nothing to fix the long-standing problem. There are many, many examples of situations that can be deemed dangerous conditions of property and potentially cause personal injuries resulting in premises liability litigation.
A CASE EXAMPLE THAT INVOLVES PERSONAL INJURIES AND PREMISES LIABILITY LITIGATION
The uniqueness of this area of law is exemplified by a personal injuries and premises liability case that I handled in the past. Here in downtown Sacramento we have a public transportation system called Light Rail. At intersections, there are the railway guards that come down to stop traffic and usually, associated bells. My client was an amazing person. And he was blind. He did not let his physical challenge keep him down, rather, he had his dog and lived as normally as possible. He rode public transportation. In one of his usual routes, he had to take a bus to get to the Light Rail station. The bus, for whatever reason, dropped him off on the other side of the tracks, requiring all disembarking passengers to cross the tracks to get back to the loading station. Unfortunately, on this one specific occasion my client ended up walking in front of an oncoming train.
This is a typical personal injuries and premises liability litigation case. When I spoke with the attorney who represented Light Rail I expressed my dismay as to how the bells were not working. The attorney then informed me they had turned the bells off for noise abatement. Bordering this Light Rail station was a parking lot, an empty lot, and an office building. Despite the high amount of foot traffic at this station, and the lack of residential living that would be affected by the noise, Light Rail turned off the bells. These trains are very quiet. When my client’s dog stopped at the tracks its vision was obscured by a large power box, preventing it from seeing down the tracks. Without sight by either dog or person, without the aid of bells to be notified of an oncoming train, forced to cross the tracks, my client stepped in front of an oncoming train. This was what we claimed to have been a dangerous condition.
Whether the defendant created the dangerous condition or failed to correct, they are responsible for this premises liability and if it caused personal injuries, a claim can be made.