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So now that I've enticed you with some interesting stories about
people getting murdered and burglars suing property owners, I
thought it would be a good time to go over the brass tacks of just
what constitutes a premises liability cause of action. When
can a resident sue? Or saying the same thing differently as us
lawyers like to do: When can the landlord be sued? When there
is a lawsuit, what does the plaintiff (the partysuing)
have to prove to recover? What does the landlord have to
disprove to defend against such suits?
We'll discuss some of these questions in the next couple of
posts. I hope this is a refreshing dose of some basic legal
principles after the sensationalism and base pandering I've
employed with a few of my recent posts.
In California, a tenant will be able to successfully sue the
landlord for negligently caused harm sustained on the property if
she proves four different facts. If you are clever and were
paying attention you'd know that I just told you the four facts in
the proceeding sentence. There are some variations but in
essence, the tenant plaintiff will have to prove:
That the defendant owned or leased or occupied or controlled
the property on which she was harmed;
That the defendant "was negligent" with respect to the
property's use or how it was maintained;
That the plaintiff sustained an injury or property damage;
That the "defendant's negligence" was a legal cause of that
injury or property damage.
If the plaintiff proves all four, she wins. The plaintiff
does not have to be a tenant to sue. Anyone who is injured on
the property - with certain exceptions not applicable in a
residential setting - can sue the owner. So if the tenant has
a guest over, and the guest injures himself on a broken faucet, the
guest can sue. He can sue the tenant (see #1 above "leased"
or "occupied"), and/or the landlord (#1 above "owned" and
(In fact, a seminal* case in California regarding duty - when to
impose one on a defendant to make him "negligent"*- involved
premises liability and the broken faucet circumstances I referenced
above. We'll discuss that case in the next entry).
After the plaintiff figures out who leased/occupied/owned and/or
controlled the premises on which she was injured, she next has to
show "negligence."* That basically means showing that the
defendant was not being careful with respect to the property.
We'll go into some examples of that in later posts.
Just because a lessor/occupier/owner/controller was negligent
does not mean that the plaintiff prevails. The plaintiff
still has to show that the negligence contributed to her injuries
such as to impose legal liability for the same. One can be
negligent, but if does not harm anyone, there is no
Get it? We'll try this for a few more posts and if it gets
boring we'll get back to sensationalism and pandering.
*Caution: lawyer word that normal people don't use.
This blog submission is only for purposes of disseminating
information. It does not constitute legal advice. The
statements in this blog submissions do not necessarily reflect the
opinions of Robinson & Wood, Inc. or its clients. No
attorney-client relationship is formed by virtue of reading this
blog entry or submitting a comment thereto. If you need legal
advice, please hire a licensed attorney in your state.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.