How Does Premises Liability Law Relate to Personal Injury Law in California?
If the owner, lessor, or occupier of a property is negligent in the use or maintenance of that property and somebody is harmed and negligence is a substantial factor in causing that harm, that’s a premises liability case.
How Does Premises Liability Relate to Slip-and-Fall or Trip-And-Fall Accidents?
A slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall is considered a premises liability because you’re falling on the property of whoever owns it or leases it. In a grocery store, for example, the owner controls the floors, so if somebody spills some water on the floor and lets the owner know but they don’t clean it up, then they’re liable. They were negligent for not keeping their floor clean and dry to protect possible victims.
What Duty Do Property Owners Owe to Visitors Under California Law?
The owner of a premises is under a duty to exercise ordinary care in the management of such premises in order to avoid exposing persons to an unreasonable risk of harm. And if they fail to fulfil this duty, that’s considered negligence.
If I Was Injured on Public Property in Orange County, Who Do I File a Personal Injury Claim Against?
If an injury occurs on public property, you’d need to find out whether it is the City, the County, or the State that’s in charge of maintaining the property. That’s who the claim would be against.
What Are the Advantages of Settling a Personal Injury Claim Versus Taking It to Trial?
There are a lot of advantages to settling a case, one being you don’t take the risk of going to trial. A settlement offer is also a known commodity, while anything could happen at trial; even if you’re in the right, the jury doesn’t have to believe you. It’s not just about the facts, it’s about what kind of witness the client is and also what kind of witnesses are presented.
Even if you win at trial, it can still be considered a loss. Let’s say the insurance company makes you a settlement offer that’s not way off from the value of the case. You’d have to be pretty confident you’re going to get double what they’ve offered at trial in order to put the same amount of money in your pocket. A trial costs, at the low end, between $10,000 and $20,000 after we hire experts. If we have a decent settlement offer, we can work with your doctors to reduce your bills and find ways to still put money in your pocket. Those are some things to consider before going to trial.
What Are the Risks of Taking My Personal Injury Case to Trial in Orange County?
There are several risks. First of all, it’s very expensive to go to trial—we’re talking $10,000 to $30,000. You always run the risk of having a jury that, for whatever reason, doesn’t like you or doesn’t feel your claim is worth what you’re asking for. They could say, “Yes, you’re injured, but you’re not injured as badly as you think you are,” and award you a monetary value that’s not enough to pay all of your expert witnesses and the other costs of going to trial.
In California, we have what’s called the statutory 998 offer to compromise that poses another risk. The plaintiffs can present an offer to the defense so that if a jury awards more than what’s demanded, the defense has to pay for the plaintiff’s expert costs. But by the same token, the defense can make an offer to the plaintiff, and if the jury awards less, then the plaintiff has to pay for their expert costs. Overall, there’s definitely a big risk in going to trial.
How Long Does a Personal Injury Trial Take Compared to Working Toward a Fair Settlement?
Generally, you could get a case settled within the two-year statute of limitations period. Usually, within 45-60 days after a claimant is released from Dr’s care, we are in a position to attempt to settle a case. Two years would be a longer case with significant injuries. If, on the other hand, you go to trial and a lawsuit is filed, it will be closer to two to three years until that case is in front of a jury here in California.
What Type of Information Should a Potential Client Have Ready When Meeting with an Attorney in Regards to Their Personal Injury Case?
When we meet with somebody, we start with their name, mailing address, phone number, email address, date of the accident, and how they were referred to us. We also need their date of birth, Social Security number, and driver’s license number. Then, we go into where the accident happened, how it happened, and whether there’s a police report. If there is a police report, we like them to bring the card that the police give them with the report number.
We find out what the injuries are, both what injuries were felt at the scene of the accident and what injuries the client is feeling currently. We often meet with potential clients a couple of days after an accident when they generally feel sorer than the day of. We need to know whether they went to the hospital because of the accident, which hospital, if they traveled in an ambulance, and which doctors they’ve seen so far. We like to find out their health insurance information and get a copy of their health insurance card.
We want to know how much damage was done to the client’s car, so hopefully they have pictures. If their car hasn’t yet gone to a body shop, we have a few that we work with around the area that we can refer them to.
A big thing we like people to bring with them is their insurance information. Their declaration page typically has the coverages and who can drive the car, and one of the reasons we like that is because we can look at what their uninsured motorist coverage is and make sure that it’s the same as their liability. If you’re injured and the at-fault party has a minimum policy, we’re able to use your underinsured motorist insurance if it’s more than their minimum.
If the person has it, we’d like to see the information for the driver who caused the accident, including their insurance information and claim number. Finally, we need to know if they’ve missed any work and, if so, for how long. If the person has any questions, we would go over those, as well.
How Much Information Is It Safe to Share with Your Prospective Lawyer? What About with Your Medical Provider?
Clients can share everything with us because once they hire us, we have an attorney-client privilege. It’s also important to be honest with your medical providers. If you lied and then we end up filing a lawsuit, all of your medical records are going to come out. The insurance companies will want to know if they caused the injuries, so they’ll look at your medical records and see if there were prior complaints of injuries and whether you’ve injured this party of your body before. If you claimed you’d never been injured before but had been treating right up to the day of the accident, that really hurts your case. It’s best to just be honest.
In a premises liability case, California law requires proof that:
- The property owner had a duty of care to maintain the property in a safe condition.
- That duty of care was breached.
- The breach of duty caused the injuries.
If the property owner is found to be liable for the harm done to the injured party, the injured party may be able to file a premises liability case against property owner for damages. Damages in a premises liability case where someone is injured may include compensation for medical bills and therapies, lost wages, loss of future income, pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement.
For more information on Premises Liability Cases in California, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (562) 600-0807 today.