If a hazard exists on the premises, homeowners have a responsibility to warn guests of any danger that is not open and obvious.

When they fail in these duties to others, homeowners may be held liable for resulting injuries.

What is the law on homeowner liability in California?

Premises liability is covered under California Civil Code Section 1714(a). The law states that everyone is responsible for injury to another caused by a person’s willful acts or want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property. The exception is when the injured person has brought the injury upon himself or herself, willfully or by want of ordinary care. A person who has been injured at someone else’s home through property owner negligence has a right to seek compensatory damages. 

When can you recover compensation from homeowners for injuries sustained on their property?

If you were hurt on someone else’s residential property, that does not necessarily mean you have a valid claim against the homeowner. To recover damages, you must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the homeowner was negligent. Any person who owns, leases, or controls property in California is required to use reasonable care to do the following, and failure to do so is negligence:

  • Maintain the property in a safe condition
  • Discover any unsafe conditions
  • Repair or replace as necessary to remedy the problem
  • Give adequate warning of any condition that could be reasonably expected to harm others

When is a homeowner not liable for injuries in San Jose?

Not all injuries that occur in a home are the result of negligence. Guests or visitors may be injured through their own carelessness, or a hazard may have developed that the homeowner could not have known about in advance. For example, a person attending a gathering in someone else’s home could slip and fall immediately after a drink was spilled on the floor by another guest. The homeowner would have no way of knowing in advance about the slip and fall hazard, and therefore could not be held liable for resulting injuries. 

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What are the elements of a premises liability claim?

In a premises liability claim against a homeowner for injuries suffered on that person’s property, you must establish the elements of the case to recover damages. Those elements are:

  • The defendant owned, occupied, leased, or controlled the property
  • The defendant was negligent in the maintenance or use of the property
  • You were harmed
  • The defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing the harm you suffered

Does homeowner’s insurance cover injuries to visitors and guests?

Liability under standard homeowners’ policies covers homeowners for bodily injury that they or their family members cause to other people, as stated by the Insurance Information Institute (III). If you fell down the stairs at someone else’s home because of a broken step the homeowner knew about but failed to repair, your injuries would be covered under the homeowner’s policy. The same coverage would apply if a homeowner’s dog bit you. Some people may be hesitant to collect damages from a friend or neighbor, but homeowners carry insurance coverage for that and other reasons.

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The Swanson Law Group: A unique law firm with uncommon results

Our San Jose premises liability attorneys will investigate your accident, secure evidence to support your claim, deal with the insurance company on your behalf, and use our knowledge, skills, and resources to effectively pursue the compensation you deserve. We understand the full value of your claim, and we will do what it takes to make the insurance company pay.

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