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Articles Posted in Premises Accidents

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Property owners owe a duty of care to people who are lawfully present on their premises to prevent injuries from existing hazards by correcting them if they know or should know about the dangers. This duty does not extend to public streets that abut the properties, however. In a recent case, the California Supreme Court examined whether or not a property owner who owned a parking lot across the street from the primary property owed a duty of care to help people to cross the street in order to prevent injuries.

Issue: Whether a property owner owes a duty of care to invitees to prevent injury when they cross over a public street from a privately owned parking lot to the owner’s premises

Grace Family Church is located in Sacramento County in an unincorporated area along a five-lane street named Marconi Street. There was an intersection that was located between 50 to 100 feet east of the church that did not have a marked crosswalk. There were not any other crosswalks across the street in the vicinity. The church used a private swim school’s parking lot as an overflow lot by agreement with the swim school.

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In California, employees of host businesses may be able to file lawsuits against negligent third parties such as subcontractors or vendors who cause them injury while they are working. Third-party injury lawsuits may be filed even when the property owner is not at fault if the third parties create dangerous conditions at the location. In Cynthia Forgays v. Jorge Vivo, Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC549455, a server at a restaurant, was able to recover full damages from a negligent videographer who set up his equipment in a negligent manner at the restaurant where she worked.

Factual background of the case

Cynthia Forgays, a 59-year-old server, had worked at Spago restaurant in Beverly Hills for more than 12 years. While she worked there, her normal income was more than $50,000 per year. On Oct. 24, 2013, the restaurant was hosting a charity dinner and auction, and Forgays was working at the event as a server. There were monitors and televisions placed throughout the restaurant for the event by outside vendors. An audio consultant named Jorge Vivo set up video tripods that supported speakers for the event.

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swimming-pool-accident-claims-CaliforniaWhen visitors to the properties of others are injured in California, they may be able to recover damages by holding the property owners liable in a premises liability lawsuit. However, it is important for people to note that just because they might be injured by a dangerous condition that exists on the property does not necessarily mean that they will be able to recover damages. In Jacobs v. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Company,2d Civil No. B277832, the court found that victims who are injured in accidents that are unforeseeable are not able to hold the defendants liable under a theory of premises liability.

Issue: Is climbing on a diving board to inspect property over an empty pool foreseeable?

In the case, the plaintiffs were being shown a bank-owned home that they were interested in buying as an investment property. The home had an empty swimming pool with a diving board, and the listing agent had noted that prospective buyers should exercise caution around the edges of the swimming pool. Prior to the showing, an inspector had inspected each room of the home, the swimming pool and the diving board, and did not see any problems with the diving board such as cracks or other indications that it was in an unsafe condition. While being shown the swimming pool area, the plaintiff climbed on the diving board so that he could see over the fence because he wanted to determine if trespassers would be able to jump over the fence that surrounded the pool area. While he was standing on the diving board, it broke, causing him to fall into the empty pool.

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fire-photo-2-300x193The tragic Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland, California resulted in the deaths of 36 people. The warehouse had been illegally converted into living and working spaces for artists, and the victims of the fire died during a music concert that was being held in the building. The fire demonstrates the problems that can happen when buildings are used for purposes for which they were not intended. Unfortunately, the high real estate prices and rents in cities such as San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles has contributed to people using these spaces to work and live even though the buildings are not intended for doing so. Experienced personal injury attorneys may hold the landowners liable by filing lawsuits against them, helping to deter the negligent conduct even when code enforcement may be difficult.

Use of illegally converted buildings

The illegal conversion of buildings into spaces for entertainment, work and living quarters has been a growing problem in Southern California and in the Bay Area. This is because the real estate prices and rents are high enough that some people, including artists, have trouble finding affordable places to live. Some building owners have reacted by allowing people to rent and use the spaces as living quarters despite the fact that the buildings are not zoned for residential purposes. The state legislature is now trying to determine how to handle the growing problem through stepped-up enforcement of codes and zoning laws. Unfortunately, the resources are not available to cities and municipalities to adequately investigate all potential zoning and code violations. The civil justice system may provide an alternative means to deter landlords and leaseholders from committing code and zoning violations by holding them liable for negligence under the state’s tort law.

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People who are injured while they are working are allowed to file claims for workers’ compensation benefits through their employers. When a worker is injured while working at a site that his or her employer does not own or control, the worker may also have a claim that he or she may file against the property owner in certain cases. A recent California case in San Luis Obispo County demonstrates how property owners may be liable when a worker is injured while working on their properties.

Factual background of the case

A 54-year-old fire alarm technician was working as a part of a two-man crew to inspect the fire alarms at the Bella Vista Transitional Care Center. While he was conducting the inspection, the care center provided him with an extension ladder to use. He fell off of the ladder 12 feet to the ground, breaking both of his feet and suffering orthopedic injuries. He also suffered a compression fracture in the lumbar area of his spine that could not be corrected with surgery. He filed a premises liability lawsuit against the care center in June 2014, and the case reached a verdict following a trial in May 2016.

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Target Stores, Accidents, Injuries, Attorneys, CaliforniaA recent California case involving a woman who was injured when she tripped over an unattended ladder in Target demonstrates both the business’s knowledge requirement as well as its duty to remove hazards, keeping the premises reasonably safe. In the case, an 83-year-old woman tripped over the ladder, fracturing her hip.

Factual background

An 83-year-old woman was shopping at a Target in Escondido, California, on Dec. 8, 2014. As she was walking down one aisle, she tripped over a 23-inch-tall stepladder that had a 4-foot handle. A worker had left the stepladder unattended. The fall caused her hip to fracture. She filed a lawsuit against Target based on a theory of premises liability on Feb. 11, 2015.

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Construction Site, Accidents, Injury, Death, Attorney, CaliforniaA recent construction site accident wrongful death Los Angeles County case and jury verdict illustrate several important topics, including cases in which several parties share liability in causing workplace accidents, workers’ compensation and the liability of third parties in workplace accidents. The case (Rosa Gonzalez, et.al. v. Atlas Construction Supply – L.A. Superior Court Case No. BC 507755) involved a man who was killed while working on a construction site in 2011.

Factual background of the case

On Aug. 2, 2011, a 30-year-old man was working at the Hyperion Treatment Plant, a wastewater facility located in Playa del Rey that handles the municipal water for the City of Los Angeles. The city commissioned a construction project at the facility, hiring USS Cal Builders as the general contractor for the work to replace a gas compressor facility that was 60 years old. USS Cal Builders hired Atlas Construction Supply, Inc. to build the concrete walls using concrete forms. The man, who was employed by USS Cal Builders, was standing on top of one of the forms when it collapsed, causing him to fall 30 feet to the ground. A portion of the wall collapsed on top of him, causing a catastrophic head injury. He was killed in the accident, and his family filed a lawsuit against Atlas Construction Supply, Inc.

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grocery store accident attorney, CaliforniaA recent case in California demonstrates how the extent and cause of a plaintiff’s injuries may be disputed even when liability itself is not in dispute. In the case, Plent v. Anheuser-Busch, LLC, Los Angeles Superior Court / BC551113, the injured plaintiff received far more at trial than she would have received if she had accepted the defendant’s final settlement offer.

Background of the case

The plaintiff, an 86-year-old woman, was shopping at an Albertson’s grocery store on May 14, 2013. While she was shopping, an Anheuser-Busch, LLC employee struck the woman with a loaded merchandise cart from behind. The woman fell to the ground and was injured. The incident was captured on the store’s surveillance videotape system. While Anheuser-Busch admitted liability, the extent of the woman’s injuries was at issue at trial. The injured woman filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant on July 9, 2014, alleging her injuries resulted from the defendant’s negligence. She asked for compensation for her future medical expenses, for her pain and suffering and for the loss of enjoyment of her life that the accident had caused.

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Lowes Hardware, Accidents, Injury, Attorney, California

Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse exterior. Lowe’s is an American chain of retail home improvement stores in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

As a Lowes hardware accident attorney in California, I know that Lowes Companies, Inc. is big business in the Golden State. The hardware, appliance and home improvement store operator has 1,140 stores in the United States, 40 stores in Canada and another 10 in Mexico. The company has plans to open another 150 stores in Australia under a different name. Lowes is number 50 on the Fortune 500 list, and only Home Depot sells more hardware, appliance and home improvement products than Lowes.

Lowes operates 111 stores in California. Only Texas and Florida have more. As a majority shareholder, the company also operates more than 70 neighborhood hardware and backyard stores known as Orchard Supply Hardware that it acquired in 2013. Nearly all of those stores are in California too.

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Construction Site, Accident, Injury, Attorney, Los Angeles, CaliforniaOn October 20, 2011, a young California man, who was employed as a union carpenter for Ghilotti Construction, fell and injured his back while working on a bridge. The incident occurred as the result of a piece of uncapped rebar snagging the worker’s pant leg and causing him to fall. He was wearing a 50 pound utility belt at the time of the fall, and his leg remained about two feet in the air, both of which exacerbated the injury he sustained.

The carpenter (plaintiff) did not report that he was injured at that time, but his foreman observed the fall and remarked that it looked like it hurt, although he denied making the comment later at trial. The plaintiff and the foreman both testified at trial that workers did not like to report workplace injuries for fear of reprimand and/or losing their jobs.

The plaintiff returned to work the day following the incident, but became concerned when he was unable to lift a 20-pound pipe, an action that he normally could complete with ease. The plaintiff’s foreman claimed that the plaintiff said that he had been hurt at home and that he was not aware of any injury sustained at the job, but that claim was negated when the foreman’s friend and neighbor testified that the foreman knew of the injury and was concerned about losing his job for letting it occur on his shift.

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