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Premises Liability Law: When is a Property Owner Liable for Poor Maintenance?

California’s premises liability laws hold that a property owner or property occupier (business) can be held legally liable if an accident occurs due to unsafe conditions on their premises. Property owners and businesses have a general duty to conduct regular, proper inspections and maintenance. 

A customer or other permitted guest injured due to inadequate maintenance may be entitled to compensation through a premises liability claim. Here, our Stockton premises liability attorney explains what you need to prove to hold a property owner liable for poor maintenance in California. 

Poor Maintenance in California: Three Elements of Liability 

What constitutes proper (adequate) maintenance is not always a straightforward matter. A Stockton, CA business or property owner has a general duty to conduct maintenance that is as thorough as an ordinarily prudent person would conduct under similar circumstances. The Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions states that a plaintiff must prove the following three things to hold a business or property owner liable for an accident caused by poor maintenance

  1. There were conditions on the property that created an unreasonable safety risk; 
  2. The business or property owner knew or should have known about the safety hazard; and
  3. The defendant failed to repair the safety defect, failed to put alternative protections in place, or failed to adequately warn customers/guests of the hazard. 

Ignorance is Not an Excuse

California law is clear: A property owner cannot get “off the hook” from facing legal liability for an accident caused by poor maintenance simply by claiming that they “did not know” about the safety hazard in question. Property owners and property occupiers have a general duty to conduct a regular, thorough inspection of their property. If the business or property owner should have known about the safety hazard, they can still be held legally liable for failure to repair/maintain. 

That being said, a property owner or business owner may raise a defense that they gave guests an adequate warning. For example, imagine that a section of a Stockon, CA department store was clearly roped off. There were ample signs warning of “ongoing repairs.” If a customer bypasses clear warning signs, the store owner may not be liable for the accident. Alternatively, the customer may be held partially for their own injuries. In premises liability claims in California, the specific facts of the case always matter. 

Schedule a Free Consultation With a Premises Liability Attorney in Stockton

At Redkey Gordon Law Corp, our Stockton, CA premises liability attorneys fight tirelessly to protect the legal rights of victims and their family members.  If you or your loved one was hurt due to a business or property owner’s failure to conduct adequate maintenance, we can help. Give us a phone call now or connect with us online to set up a free, no-obligation review of your case. With a law office in Stockton, we handle premises liability claims throughout Central California.