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Articles Posted in Premises Accidents

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When people are injured in accidents because of the negligence of others, they are entitled to recover damages for their economic and noneconomic losses. However, in cases involving multiple defendants, the jury may allocate different percentages of fault to each defendant. The defendants will then be responsible for paying their percentage of fault for the noneconomic losses. In Schreiber v. Lee, Cal. Ct. App., Case No. A149969, the California Court of Appeal considered a case involving multiple defendants and the apportionment of fault when the plaintiff settled with some of the defendants before trial for more than what the jury awarded to the plaintiff at trial.[1]

Factual and procedural background

Stephen K. Lee built a three-unit apartment building with the units above garages. When he constructed the building, he installed skylights in the floors of the decks of the apartments to allow light into the garages. Marthe Schreiber had lived in one of the units since 1980. Because she was concerned that the skylight in her deck’s floor was unsafe, she had never walked on it. She installed flower boxes around its perimeter to keep visiting children off of the skylight. In 2013, Schreiber was working with her employee to plant flowers in the boxes around the skylight. She tried to hand the worker a six-pack of flowers by reaching across the length of the skylight. When she did so, she lost her balance and fell through the skylight, suffering serious injuries.

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In most cases, people who participate in sports are barred from recovering damages because of a legal doctrine called the primary assumption of the risk. Under this doctrine, people are considered to have assumed the risk of participating in inherently dangerous sports. However, as the case of Summer J. v. United States Baseball Federation, Cal. Ct. App. Case No. B282414 and B285029, an exception might apply, depending on the role played by the defendant.

Factual and procedural background

On Aug. 17, 2014, Summer J., a 12-year-old girl, was a spectator at the national team trials for U.S. Baseball at Blair Field, which is located on the campus of California State University, Long Beach. She was sitting in the grandstand, which was not protected by netting. When Summer’s attention was distracted away from the game, a player struck a line drive foul ball, hitting her in the face. Summer suffered serious injuries, including damage to her optic nerve. She filed a lawsuit against U.S. Baseball, the City of Long Beach, and the university, alleging premises liability and negligence.

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General contractors in California will generally not be liable for injuries that are suffered by the employees of their subcontractors while they are working at construction sites. However, if the general contractors exercise control over the safety practices in the working area where the accidents happen, they may be liable to pay damages to the injured workers. In Torres v. Design Group Facility Solutions, Inc., Cal. Ct. App. Case No. B294220, the court considered a case in which the employee of a subcontractor was injured while he was working.[1] It looked at whether the court erred in granting a motion for reconsideration and a motion for summary judgment at the same time without giving the plaintiff a chance to respond.

Factual and procedural background

Design Group Facility Solutions was hired as the general contractor for an expansion and renovation project of a seafood factory. The company subcontracted with C&L Refrigeration for the installation of new refrigeration units. C&L Refrigeration hired H.J. Vast to complete the electrical work. Ismael Torres was employed by H.J. Vast.

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Residential-Accident-Claims-Attorney-Los-Angeles-300x200When people are injured in California while they are lawfully visiting the premises of others, the property owners or operators may be liable to pay damages. However, the property owners or operators must have known or reasonably should have known about the existence of the hazardous condition. In Jones v. Awad, Cal. Ct. App. No. F077359, the court considered whether a homeowner could be liable for a step that did not meet city building codes when the homeowner had purchased the home after it had been built.

Factual and procedural background of the case

Theresa Jones visited Clyde and Julia Awad’s home in Dec. 2014. While she was there, she left the home through a door to the garage. Outside the door, there was one step that she had to take before she got to the floor of the garage. The step had a piece of carpet attached to it, and there was a welcome mat placed on top of the carpet. As Jones stepped down onto the step, she slipped and fell, injuring her wrist and humerus. Jones said that when she stepped on the rug, it felt like there wasn’t anything underneath it. She said that she believed that it must have slipped, causing her to fall. The Awads’s son was in the garage at the time of Jones’s fall. He testified that he did not see her fall but that the welcome mat was not easily moved and that it was still in its normal position after Jones’s fall.

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People who are seriously injured when they are visiting the property of others may be able to recover damages from the property owners or possessors in some cases. In some instances, injured plaintiffs may be able to reach defendants that are national companies or organizations. However, as Barenborg v. Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, Cal. Ct. App. Case No. B289766, some defendants may not be vicariously liable for the actions of chapters that are run independently.

Factual background of the case

Sigma Alpha Epsilon is a national fraternal organization with more than 13,000 members and chapters at universities and colleges across the nation. The organization has bylaws that local chapters are supposed to follow, but each local chapter independently manages its own affairs and has its own bylaws. The California Gamma chapter was located at the University of Southern California. It had committed multiple violations in the past and occasionally held parties on Thursdays in violation of the organization’s rule that there should be no parties on Monday through Thursday.

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Many California businesses ask their patrons to sign waivers of liability when the patrons use their facilities. These waivers are especially common in recreational businesses such as gyms. While these waivers may absolve companies of liability when people are injured, they do not offer absolute protection to the businesses. In cases in which juries find that the actions of the businesses amounted to negligence per se or gross negligence, the companies may still be liable to pay damages despite the waivers. In Ziegler v. The Bay Clubs Company, LLC, et al., Los Angeles Superior Court case no. BC638802, a plaintiff prevailed in her negligence claim against a gym despite having signed a waiver of liability.

Factual background of the case

Patricia Ziegler, a 71-year-old retired woman, visited the Bay Clubs Company’s gym in El Segundo on Jan. 31, 2016. While she was walking through the gym, she attempted to take a shortcut between two treadmills. People at the gym often took a shortcut between the treadmills instead of walking the long way around on the aisles. The gym had a metal wireway on the floor between the treadmills that was approximately six inches by six inches. The wireway had an unsecured lid. While Ziegler was walking through the area, her foot caught underneath the lid, causing her to fall. She fractured and dislocated her elbow and filed a lawsuit against the company for her injuries, alleging negligence per se and gross negligence. The plaintiff allegedly had signed a waiver of liability when she joined the gym.

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Mop bucket and caution sign

California companies have a duty of care to keep their premises in reasonably safe conditions for their visitors. (NOTE: For a full summary of California law on accident and injury claims on commercial property, click here). There are limits to this duty of care, however. In Peralta v. The Vons Company, Cal. Court of Appeals, case no. B282130, the extent of the duty of care owed to visitors was explored.

Background of the case

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personal-injury-law-CaliforniaThe California Supreme Court recently ruled in Regents of the University of California v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County that universities in the state have a duty to protect their students from violent acts that are foreseeable. The case involved a lawsuit that was filed by a student at UCLA who was stabbed by a classmate while she was in an on-campus lab. People who have been attacked on college campuses might want to consult with a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer about the rights that they might have.

Factual background of the case

Damon Thompson was a student at UCLA who began experiencing persecutory auditory hallucinations and delusions that other students were plotting against him and talking badly about him. Thompson had transferred to UCLA in 2008. He emailed his history professor after his final and stated that other students had made offensive comments during the test that angered him. The professor sent the email to the chair of the department, who advised him to recommend that Thompson get help from the school’s counseling department.

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automatic-gate-accident-attorney-los-angelesAutomatic gate accidents in Los Angeles can cause serious injuries or deaths. In these types of cases, there are several parties that might be liable. The property owners or lessors may be responsible if they negligently retain or repair the gates or if the knew or should have known about an existing defect and failed to repair it. If the automatic gate failed because of a defective part, the part’s manufacturer may be liable to pay damages. Finally, people who are injured in gate accidents may also share liability. In Park v. Oh, Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC569323, the plaintiff and the property owner shared liability.

Factual background of the case

Around 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 13, 2013, Chon Ho Park drove down the driveway of his apartment complex. As he drew near to an automatic gate, he noticed that it was working improperly. Oh watched the gate as it opened and closed multiple times and called his landlord to ask what he should do. His landlord told him to turn the switch on the automatic gate to the off position so that the landlord could inspect it later on during the day. Park looked for the switch but could not see it. He walked around to the outside of the gate to look for it. The switch was located inside of the motor’s exterior plastic housing. While Park stayed on the phone with his landlord, he reached through some metal bars in order to try to turn the switch off. When he did, the gate closed on his wrist and arm, breaking them. Park filed a lawsuit against his landlord alleging that the landlord had negligently maintained the gate.

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batting-cage-accidentProperty owners and operators in California owe duties of care to protect people who are legally present on their properties from dangerous conditions. Property owners must either know about the existence of the hazardous condition or should know about it for liability to attach. They must take steps to correct hazards about which they know or should have known and to warn visitors to their property about their existence. In Lefebvre v. NC Valley Baseball, LLC, Stanislaus County Superior Court No. 2019247, the court considered the concepts of notice and of assumption of the risk in a case involving a man who was injured at a batting cage by a baseball.

Factual background of the case

Craig Lefebvre was a 23-year-old coach for a team from NC Valley Baseball, LLC. On Jan. 21, 2016, Lefebvre was getting ready to leave the batting cage location in Modesto when he was stopped by a parent to talk. As Lefebvre stopped on the walkway between two of the batting areas, a foul ball flew through the protective netting and struck him in the groin.

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