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Premises liability centers on owners’ responsibilities

Commercial property ownership can be a good investment that allows people to keep their businesses alive with reliable assets and space. Just like residential property, these offices and stores must be kept safe for tenants and patrons alike.

California law on premises liability requires that owners maintain property in a reasonably safe condition. This forbids environments dangerous for normal people, who would slip in a puddle on the floor or be struck by debris from a ceiling.

Owners and managers are responsible for regular monitoring of all commercial spaces. Businesses are liable for any dangers that could be discovered by that regular monitoring or a report from employees or visitors.

Property damage that can cause injuries includes broken or uneven stairs, gates, balconies, walking surfaces and swimming pools. Toxic materials such as lead, mold, asbestos or other commonly harmful substances must be addressed to protect people from exposure.

Proper lighting, warning signs, evacuation route signs, elevator functions and escalator maintenance are also necessary to avoid unnecessary injury and a possible premises liability claim.

Building codes must also be adhered to by owners, supervisors and managers to maintain safety. An owner is considered criminally negligent if a resident’s or visitor’s injury is caused by conditions that are outside of California building code. Poor property management may also constitute criminal negligence.

People injured by bad property conditions may be eligible for reimbursement for their medical expenses and compensation for recovery time, lost wages and pain and suffering. Legal representation can help evaluate a victim’s options and seek restitution in settlements or court actions.

Source: California Lawyer, “A Primer on Premises Liability,” Kimberly Wong, accessed Sep. 11, 2017

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