If someone recently fell inside your store and they brought a lawsuit against you in an effort to recover compensation for their injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, etc. it may be wise for you to retain a personal injury attorney of your own who will defend you and ensure the claim being filed is a legitimate one. While the person may have fallen on your property and sustained injuries, if they were careless or engaging in negligent behavior, they may actually be at fault for their own behavior which would relieve you of liability. However, if you or your landlord failed to maintain a safe and hazard-free premises, then their claim may be valid and you or your landlord might be required to compensate them.
What is my obligation to consumers who shop inside my store?
As a store owner, it is your duty to maintain a safe and hazard-free premise. This means there should be nothing in your store that could potentially harm a customer or cause them to engage in an accident (i.e. lifted carpet, raised floorboard, etc.). If there is an area that is under construction or unsafe, that area should be blocked off to customers and you should have a visible sign that prohibits anyone from entering that area. In the event a customer decides to walk into an area that is blocked off and slips and falls, then he or she would likely be liable for their injuries and wouldn’t have much of a case against you.
If you think the customer who filed suit against you was at-fault or partially at fault for the slip and fall accident they engaged in, you should contact The Law Offices of Bruce S. Meth in San Diego to discuss the course of action you should take to protect yourself and your business.
When would my landlord be responsible for the injuries a customer suffered in a slip and fall accident in San Diego, CA?
Just as you have obligations you must meet as a store owner, so does your landlord. According to CACI No. 1006 of the California Civil Jury Instructions, “A landlord must conduct reasonable periodic inspections of [the] rental property whenever the landlord has the legal right of possession. Before giving possession of leased property to a tenant [or on renewal of a lease] [or after retaking possession from a tenant], a landlord must conduct a reasonable inspection of the property for unsafe conditions and must take reasonable precautions to prevent injury due to the conditions that were or reasonably should have been discovered in the process.”
The law also stipulates that the landlord is required to inspect the “common areas under the landlord’s control.” Even after you have taken possession of the property as the tenant, the landlord is still expected to “take reasonable precautions to prevent injury due to any unsafe condition in an area of the premises under the landlord’s control if the landlord knows or reasonably should have known about it.” In the event the consumer suffered an injury as a result of the landlord’s negligence, then the claim that was initially filed against you should name your landlord as the defendant, not you.
Important: California law says that “before liability may be thrust on a landlord for a third party’s injury due to a dangerous condition on the land, the plaintiff must show that the landlord had actual knowledge of the dangerous condition in question, plus the right and ability to cure the condition.”
Now, because the law governing premise liability can be somewhat confusing, before assuming you landlord was responsible for the incident, it would be best that you have San Diego, CA personal injury attorney Bruce S. Meth review the details of the slip and fall accident and decide who is actually at fault. You should also hire a lawyer if the other party has retained an attorney of their own who is requesting surveillance videos from your store, has collected witness statements, or has contacted you for a statement regarding the incident. It is important for you to understand that just because you received notice that a lawsuit has been filed against you and you have been contacted by a lawyer, that doesn’t mean the other party has enough evidence to win their case.
Now, to ensure your rights are protected and that the injured party isn’t attempting to file a lawsuit for the injuries they suffered as a result of their own negligent behavior, you will want to schedule an initial consultation with our office as soon as possible.
You can reach The Law Offices of Bruce S. Meth at:
Phone: (619) 691-8942
Email: [email protected]
Mission Valley Office
1761 Hotel Court, Suite 250
San Diego, CA 92108
Scripps Ranch Office
11704 Petenwell Road
San Diego, CA 92131
Chula Vista Office
815 Third Ave., Ste. 115
Chula Vista, Ca 91911