Just because you were injured on someone else’s property does not automatically make you eligible to receive compensation, as discouraging as it may sound. Many people tend to assume that the property owner or occupier is automatically liable for their injuries due to the fact that the slip and fall or other premises liability accident occurred on their property.
Unfortunately, (or fortunately for property owners), it is not the case. Under California’s premises liability law, the property owner or occupier and his/her insurance company can either reduce the value of your personal injury claim to be paid or dismiss your claim altogether if they successfully mount of the following four premises liability defenses in California.
Even if they do raise any of the following defenses against you, you may be able to fight through their defense and recover the maximum amount by hiring a Los Angeles premises liability attorney from the Compass Law Group, LLP
What does California premises liability law has to say about this?
In a nutshell, in order to successfully recover damages in a slip and fall or other premises liability accident, you will have to prove all the elements of your claim (duty owed, breach of duty, causation, and damages). However, most property owners and occupiers, especially those representing a business, hire the best personal injury lawyers in California, and they will not give up so easily.
Under California’s law, a visitor is typically required to exercise the degree of care and prudence in the interest of his/her own safety that another person would exercise under similar circumstances. Therefore, visitors, customers, and shoppers in California are legally required to exercise reasonable care for their own safety, and the property owner or occupier expects their visitors to exercise that care.
Premises liability defenses in California
When a premises liability claim is filed in Los Angeles, Santa Clarita, or elsewhere in California, insurance companies and their lawyers may attempt to raise any of the following four defenses to invalidate your claim or reduce the settlement amount:
- Assumption of risk. Although this is considered the most common premises liability defense in California, it can be used only for certain businesses and properties. To successfully defend himself/herself against liability, the property owner or occupier will have to present evidence that you were aware of the danger when entering the property, understood and recognized the risks of that danger, and that knowledge did not stop you from exposing yourself to the potential risks. For example, if you slipped and fell on the floor where there were the “Caution! Wet floor” sign, the property owner may successfully argue that you assumed the risk by walking through the slippery area despite the sign.
- Comparative negligence. Many property owners and occupiers, when being confronted in a premises liability case, often argue that the injured party was partially at fault for causing his/her injuries. Our experienced premises liability attorney in Los Angeles explains that if your own negligence or carelessness contributed to the accident, the amount of compensation you will be able to recover may be reduced by the percentage of your own fault.
- Pre-existing injuries. Insurance companies in California also inquire into the prior medical history of those injured in a slip and fall or any other premises liability accident. If you had a similar injury or medical condition in the past, the property owner or occupier may argue that the accident merely aggravated the injury, not caused it, or that your injury was caused by some other accident from the past.
- Questioning the severity of your injuries. Often as a last-ditch attempt to discredit your premises liability claim, insurance companies may argue that the seriousness of your injuries is not as severe as he or she claims to be, and/or that the injured party’s daily activities or work have not been impacted by the injuries. As their supporting evidence, insurance companies and the defendant’s lawyer may even do some digging to find certain photos or videos on your social media accounts (Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter) that indicate that your injuries are not as serious as claimed.
Just because the insurance company or the property owner/occupier mounted a premises liability defense, it does not necessarily mean that you are doomed to lose your claim or recover less than you are entitled to. If you are represented by a Los Angeles premises liability attorney, you will most likely be able to fight that defense and recover the maximum amount.