As a general matter, California landowners have an obligation to ensure that their property is safe for those whom they invite onto their land. The extent of the duty owed by a landowner to a visitor depends largely on the relationship between the parties and the reason for the guest’s visit.
In California premises liability cases, courts require a plaintiff to establish four basic elements, as outlined in California Civil Jury Instructions section 1000:
- The defendant owned, leased, or was in control of the property;
- The defendant was negligent in the maintenance of the property;
- The plaintiff was harmed; and
- The defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s injuries.
Of course, there are many nuances to premises liability law that can alter the apportionment of liability. For example, if a dangerous condition is so obvious that a person could reasonably be expected to notice it, the landowner has no duty to warn the guest of the hazard. That being said, these determinations are made by courts on a case-by-case basis, and anyone considering a premises liability lawsuit should consult with a dedicated California personal injury attorney to discuss their case in more detail.