Articles Posted in Premises Liability

water cooler

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A California appeals court recently dismissed a personal injury case against several defendants after an independent contractor was injured at a work site. The plaintiff was working as an independent contractor that was providing maintenance engineering staff for a company that was undergoing a renovation of a water cooling tower on its premises. While on his shift, the plaintiff checked on the water level of a cooling tower by looking over the water cooling tower wall. He used a partial extension ladder which was left leaning against the tower by a subcontractor. The ladder slipped, causing the plaintiff to fall and sustain serious injuries. The plaintiff sued the landowner, the main contractor for the project, and other defendants, alleging they were liable for his injuries due to the unsafe conditions. The defendants claimed they were immune from suit because the worker was an employee of an independent contractor.

In a previous case, Privette v. Superior Court, California’s Supreme Court held that if an employee of an independent contractor hired to do dangerous work suffers an injury at work, the employee cannot recover compensation from the party that retained the independent contractor. However, there are certain exceptions to the general rule. One is if the party that hired the contractor retains control over safety conditions on the premises, negligently maintains those conditions, and affirmatively contributes to the employee’s injuries. Another exception is if the party that hired the independent contractor 1.) knew of a “latent or concealed preexisting hazardous condition” on the property, 2.) the contractor did not know of the condition and could not have reasonably discovered it, and 3.) the landowner did not warn the contractor about the hazardous condition.

slip/fall

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In a recent personal injury case before a California appeals court, the court considered whether the firefighter’s rule applied in a case involving the plaintiff’s fall at an architectural residence. The plaintiff was hired as a site representative for the defendant’s residence. A third party rented out the residence for an event. The plaintiff was giving a tour of the residence when he fell from a platform that was suspended over a hillside. He filed claims against the defendant property owner for negligence and premises liability. At trial, the property owner argued that he was protected under the “firefighter’s rule.” The court decided that the rule applied and instructed the jury accordingly, which found in the property owner’s favor. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the firefighter’s rule did not apply in this case.

The doctrine of primary assumption of risk holds that, due to the nature of the activity involved and the parties’ relationship to the activity, the defendant does not owe the plaintiff a duty of care, thereby barring the plaintiff’s claims. The firefighter’s rule is a variation of the primary assumption of risk doctrine. The firefighter’s rule holds that a firefighter cannot hold liable members of the public who negligently started a fire. The rule also applies to police officers. The idea is that members of these professions knowingly undertake certain risks. The rule is applied to cases where the risk of injury is inherent in the plaintiff’s occupation, and the plaintiff is injured as a result of that inherent risk.

California College

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In a recent case before a California court of appeals, the plaintiff argued that a national fraternity was liable for injuries she suffered at a frat party. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured when she fell off a makeshift dance platform at the party. The party was hosted by a local chapter of the national fraternity. She filed suit against the national fraternity for negligence, and a trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the fraternity. The issue before the court of appeals was whether the national fraternity had a duty to protect the plaintiff.

In a claim for negligence, a plaintiff must prove duty, breach, causation, and damages. Everyone normally has a general duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid injuring others. However, there is no duty to protect others from the conduct of third parties, although there are exceptions to that rule.

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Under California personal injury law, the owner of a dog that bites or injures another person may be held liable for the injuries caused by their animal. However, the manner in which a California dog bite victim must go about in proving their case depends on the facts surrounding the accident.

There are two basic types of California dog bite cases, those brought under a theory of strict liability and those brought under the theory of negligence.

Strict Liability: Dog Bites Occurring in Public Places

California imposes strict liability on dog owners whose animals bite another person in a public place or in any other place that the victim is legally permitted to be. Importantly, this means that the dog bite victim does not need to show that the animal’s owner knew that their pet was dangerous or that the animal had attacked someone in the past.

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college students

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In a recent California personal injury case, a student brought a negligence claim against the University of Southern California (USC) for injuries she suffered at a fraternity party. The student, who was not attending USC, was apparently attending a fraternity party near USC and was dancing on a makeshift platform when another person bumped into her. The student fell and suffered serious injuries as a result. The student claimed that USC had a duty to protect her from an unreasonable risk of harm and that the University failed to protect her by failing to shut down or prevent the party.

The Duty of Care

A California personal injury case brought under the theory of negligence requires the injury victim to show that the defendant owed a duty of care toward the plaintiff. Generally, every person has a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid injuring others. However, a person who does not create a risk does not typically have a duty to protect others from harm. And generally, a person does not have to protect individuals from the conduct of third parties. In certain cases, there may be a duty to protect others from the conduct of third parties, such as where someone undertakes the duty of protecting another person or where a special relationship exists.

In this case, a California appellate court held that the University did not have a duty to protect members of the public from the conduct of a third party at an off-campus fraternity party. The court acknowledged that the school has control over the campus, its rules and disciplinary measures, and campus police. However, as the California Supreme Court stated, universities have a special relationship with their students while the students are engaging in school activities—but that does not extend to “student behavior over which the university has no significant degree of control.”

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college students

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For young students, schools not only serve as a place of learning, but also provide essential oversight and supervision to children who are too young to care for themselves. Of course, as students get older, they can care for themselves. However, they still spend a significant portion of their time on campus. Thus, the duty that colleges and universities have to their students is the subject of much discussion and debate.

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a California school injury case discussing the duty a state college has to its students. While the case involved the intentional conduct of another student, the most important part of the opinion was the language discussing the school’s duty to students.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was attacked by another student with a knife. Evidently, the student who attacked the plaintiff had a documented history of mental health issues, and had explained to numerous staff members that he felt as though his fellow students were out to get him. In one example, the student claimed to have overheard fellow students plotting to shoot him.

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leg injury

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Earlier this year, a California appellate court considered a case brought against a public college by a visiting athlete. The court ultimately concluded that the public college was not entitled to immunity and allowed the plaintiff’s case to proceed.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff, a student-athlete at a public college in the Los Angeles area, was participating in a volleyball tournament at another public college in California. During the tournament, the plaintiff was injured during a game when she dove into the sand and hit a rock. The athlete filed a lawsuit against the host college, alleging that she was injured by a dangerous condition on the college’s property. The host college claimed that it could not be held liable for the injury because it was protected by immunity.

Governmental Immunity

Governmental immunity prevents people from suing the government in certain situations, by making the government immune from lawsuits. Immunity is often afforded to federal, state, and local governments, as well as government-operated organizations.

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One of the benefits of living in California is that many parts of the state have great weather. Due to the pleasant conditions, lots of restaurants have outdoor patio seating for patrons to enjoy their meals under the sun. However, sometimes disaster strikes. In this case, a woman was eating lunch on the patio of a restaurant when she was bit by a spider, which was later discovered to be a black widow spider. After being hospitalized with weakness and numbness due to the injuries, the woman who was bitten sued the restaurant where the bite occurred for damages. If you have been hurt in any way while on the premises of another individual or a business, they may be liable for your injuries. That’s why it is so important to contact a skilled Southern California premises liability attorney as soon as possible if you are injured, even if at first it may not seem to be the fault of the establishment.

Negligence

The main legal concept in this case is negligence. In order to prevail on a negligence claim, the plaintiff must prove that the negligent party had a duty to them that it breached. Generally, businesses and individuals have a duty to act reasonably under the circumstances. What is and is not reasonable is usually a question for the jury. The jury looks at all the facts of the case and then decides whether the defendant’s behavior was reasonable or not. There are some areas where the law has specifically carved out exceptions, but generally the concepts of negligence law will apply.

A plaintiff sued Wal-Mart for injuries she sustained at one of Wal-Mart’s stores while acting within the course and scope of her employment with Acosta, Inc. The trial court found Wal-Mart liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. Under California Labor Code sections 3852 and 3856, appellant Hartford Accident & Indemnity Company (Hartford) applied for a lien on the plaintiff’s judgment to obtain reimbursement for the California workers’ compensation benefits it paid her. Although the judgment included compensation for her medical expenses, it did not include compensation for her lost wages. The court granted Hartford a lien on the judgment but reduced the lien amount.In August 2012, the plaintiff was working for Acosta when she fell and injured herself on Wal-Mart’s premises. Hartford was Acosta’s workers’ compensation insurer and paid the victim more than $152,000 in benefits, including more than $115,000 in medical expenses and roughly $37,000 in temporary disability indemnity for her lost wages.

In July 2014, following a three-day bench trial, the court found Wal-Mart 100 percent at fault and entered judgment against Wal-Mart for $355,000, including $178,000 in past medical expenses, $102,000 in future medical expenses, and $75,000 in past and future pain and suffering. Although the complaint sought lost wages and earning capacity, the court did not award her damages for these items because she did not ask for them at trial.

Hartford filed a notice and application for a lien on the judgment, based on the workers’ compensation benefits it paid to the victim. The trial court issued an order to show cause why it should not grant the requested lien. The plaintiff filed an opposition, arguing the court should reduce the lien amount by the nearly $37,000 Hartford sought for the temporary disability benefits it paid because she did not present evidence regarding those payments at trial, and therefore the court did not award her that amount as damages.

A plaintiff was hit by a car as he crossed a street between defendant Grace Family Church and the church’s parking lot. He sued the church for negligence, alleging that the church was negligent in breaching its duty of care to help him safely cross the street. The trial court granted the church’s motion for summary judgment. The Third District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s decision in this California premises liability case, and last month, the California Supreme Court reversed the appeals court’s decision and remanded the case.In his initial lawsuit, the plaintiff alleged that the church owed him a duty of care to help him cross the street. The church responded that it had no control over the public street and thus did not owe a duty to prevent the plaintiff’s injury, contending that landowners have no duty to protect others from dangers on adjacent streets unless the owner created the danger.

Before the state supreme court, the parties stipulated that the church did not control the street and did not create the dangers on the street. But the church, the plaintiff argued, by directing the plaintiff to park there, foreseeably increased the likelihood that the plaintiff would cross the street and become injured. Thus, the circumstances differed from those in which a landowner simply owns property next to a public street.

California Civil Code section 1714(a) establishes the general duty that each person must exercise reasonable care for the safety of others. The California Supreme Court has held that courts should create an exception to this rule only when supported by public policy.

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