Premises liability is a serious concern for homeowners having summer parties and get-togethers now that restrictions are being rolled back in many areas. What happens if someone slips and falls on the new brick pavers you DIYed over the pandemic? Can they sue you if they get in an accident after the backyard picnic you hosted with an open bar? Where do your guests’ responsibilities end and your liability begin? No one expects their party to end in calamity or injury, but all it takes is one accident to wreak financial havoc on your household. Generally speaking, under California law, a guest can sue a homeowner under state premises liability law, which imposes a duty of care on owners, occupants, and renters over a dwelling or property they are responsible for under this law.
The duty of care referred to in premises law obligates those who own, control, or possess property to ensure it’s:
- Maintained & Inspected
- Repaired When Needed
- Provide Warning of Dangerous Conditions
If an obligated property owner, occupier, or manager fails to keep it reasonably safe could be held liable for injuries sustained on the property. A personal injury lawsuit could be filed against the property owners for damages due to injury.
A premises liability lawsuit in California for compensatory damages can include:
- Medical bills
- Physical therapy
- Continuing medical care
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
Protecting Yourself and Property From Liability
When you are preparing to open your home to friends and family during the summer, you should take some precautions or pay extra attention to specific areas around your home to protect your home and property from liability concerns.
- Swimming Pools: If you have a pool, you know that it’s a draw for family and friends, but it can bring stress to homeowners because swimming pool accidents can be especially dangerous. If an adult is harmed at your pool from risky behavior, you have no responsibility to warn them of the danger of their behavior. However, children should be supervised while at your pool, and if they are injured while unsupervised, you could be facing some difficulties. The responsibility to ensure pool safety is on adults when they use your facilities, but it’s on the property owner when the swimmer is under 18.
- Bars and Alcohol Service: If you are hosting a social activity with alcoholic beverages, your liability applies to your interaction with and service to an intoxicated individual. If your guests are intoxicated and you continued to serve them, you could be responsible for their negligent acts because of their drunken state. The law states that you have a duty of care regarding activities and accidents associated with your property, so the legal test could be whether the duty of care was exercised by serving a drunk person additional alcohol. A great way to solve this problematic issue would be to create a 2-3 drink minimum, depending on the length of the party.
- Stairs: If your stairs are in poor condition or need repairs, you could be held liable if someone is injured on them due to negligent care of the property. If you’re planning to host a party, you should start by getting repairs done. You should also alert guests to areas that are trip and fall hazards.
- Pets: Not all pets are friendly, and it’s the responsibility of property owners to warn guests or put their pets away. If an adult guest is harmed by your pet at no fault of their own (they weren’t hurting the pet or taunting it), you could be held liable. Like with swimming pool liability, children are more protected by our laws regarding premises liability and injuries sustained on private property. If a child is harmed by your dog, you are most likely liable in all circumstances because the onus is on the owner to protect any child, even a trespassing one, from your pet.
Have you been injured on someone else’s property? Have you been sued for injuries on your property? The attorneys at Palmer Rodak & Associates can help you with your premises liability case in California. Call us today at (760) 573-2223 to schedule a consultation.