Property owners who open their doors to the public have an ethical and legal duty to make sure their premises are free of avoidable dangers. Unfortunately, thousands of shoppers, visitors and other invited guests are still hurt every year by owners and occupiers who don’t maintain their premises or take other basic safety measures. Most of the resulting accidents are minor, but a few are major catastrophes that cause death, disability or serious injuries. Victims seeking to hold property owners and occupiers responsible for the resulting tragedies may file premises liability lawsuits.
Laws throughout the United States require property owners or occupiers to take reasonable care to clear hazards off their property and nearby public walkways. That includes private homeowners with invited guests as well as government agencies and public places like stores, museums or amusement parks. Most commonly, taking reasonable care means fixing or warning visitors about dangers like slippery spills, icy steps, uneven floors or crumbling stairways. However, liability for unsafe premises includes liability for attacks by a dog or other animal; elevator accidents; sickness or injury caused by poor ventilation; and other causes.
Victims of a violent crime are frequently also covered by premises liability law, under a special legal principle called negligent security. Owners have a duty to maintain a safe property and avoid foreseeable hazards; this includes the foreseeable hazard of violent crime. That means that if a public or private property is located in a high-crime area or presents an attractive target for other reasons, property owners must provide good lighting, secure door locks, security guards or other appropriate security measures. If it fails, victims of the resulting crimes may hold them responsible. The courts have extended this liability to rental landlords, schools, employees and even online violence.
Premises liability and negligent security lawsuits can be very complicated because they frequently involve more than one business or even government agencies, each of which has a separate insurer, and sometimes multiple victims. Panish Shea & Boyle has extensive experience handling and winning this kind of complex litigation. Our attorneys have taken leadership roles in several large-scale national class action lawsuits, as well as individual lawsuits presenting complicated liability and procedural issues. Partners Kevin Boyle and Brian Panish won the largest settlement ever against the City of San Francisco, $21 million, for a wrongful death of a four-year-old girl hit by a municipal truck as she walked home from school.
The Los Angeles premises liability attorneys at Panish Shea & Boyle are national leaders in personal injury and consumer protection law. Partners have won several landmark verdicts and settlements, including the largest verdict in U.S. legal history in Anderson v. General Motors and the nation’s largest defective-tire settlement in Lampe v. Continental General Tire. Our lawyers are repeatedly nominated or honored with awards for their leadership roles in those and similar cases. Name partners frequently write and speak to other attorneys about their legal specialties and all of our attorneys are active in public life.
Premises Liability Verdicts & Settlements
- Williams v. Doe Garbage Truck Company $7,000,000
- Vasquez v. Doe Oil Refinery $6,000,000