Hold Property Owners Accountable For Dangerous Conditions
When a dangerous property condition causes injury, California’s premises liability laws can hold property owners financially responsible. Premises liability cases can encompass a broad spectrum of issues, from uniform building code violations to improper maintenance or management. In addition, they can involve defective design or construction that leads to injury or death on public or private property.
If you are considering a lawyer for a premises liability case, here are a few things to consider when selecting one.
At Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP, our trial lawyers have the experience and the resources to effectively litigate against private property owners, government entities, owners of large properties such as shopping malls and apartment complexes, landlords, property management companies, and insurers. We know how to identify negligent conduct and work to obtain fair compensation for our clients.
Experienced Help After An Accident On Public Or Private Property
Our premises liability practice includes representation for accidents related to improper maintenance, poor construction, inadequate warnings, insufficient lighting, inadequate handrails or stairs, and other premises defects. Our attorneys handle cases that involve:
- Fires and explosions
- Falling objects or debris
- Slip-and-falls or trip-and-falls
- Stairwells with nonuniform step heights or broken railings
- Deck and stairway collapses due to negligent construction
- Negligent maintenance
- Dangerous parking lots
- Hotels or resorts
- Vacation rental property, including Airbnb and VRBO rentals
- Recreational uses that cause injuries, such a playgrounds, ski slopes, and golf courses
- Defective elevators or escalators (shoes, clothing or feet becoming entrapped because of brush guard problems)
- Hazardous doors or windows that may allow falls when screens or required tempered glass is missing
- Inadequate security resulting in an assault or death
With the advent of online peer-to-peer vacation property rental markets like Airbnb and VRBO (vacation rentals by owner) comes a host of potentially complicated legal issues. Participation in this market often requires users to complete lengthy, self-serving agreements that contain general liability releases. However, this does not necessarily mean you cannot bring a premises liability claim. We would be happy to explain this in more detail after reviewing your case.
If you were injured on an unsafe property, you may be able to bring an injury claim against the property owner or landlord, the property manager or management company, a private security company, a maintenance company, or even a builder. In fact, depending upon the circumstances of the incident, there may be more than one culpable party.
We have helped many families with products liability cases, and here is an example of some of the cases:
Premises Liability Cases
Motorcyclist v. Landowner – $3,043,491 award
Motorcyclist at a motocross park suffered serious back injuries when he rode off a 25-foot cliff at a motocross track created by landowner’s excavation of gravel that obliterated a biking trail.
Our client paid a fee to ride his dirt bike on the trails at the 43-acre Sand Hill Ranch Motocross Park in Brentwood, Contra Costa County, owned by Tom Anderson, when one trail unknowingly led him off a 25-foot cliff. As our client rode at 25 mph, the trail suddenly disappeared in front of him, causing him to land on large boulders at the base of the cliff and sustain serious spinal fractures. Gravel from Sand Hill Ranch had been excavated and removed to create a quarry since the previous time our client ridden there, cutting off the dirt trail around a curve and creating a trap. Mr. Anderson failed to provide any barricades, warnings or instructions regarding the dangerous condition. The landowner claimed that the release signed by our client barred his claim, primary assumption of risk applied because our client participated in motocross as a sporting activity, our client was negligent and recreational immunity under Civil Code Section 846 barred the claim.
Tenant v. Property Owner and Property Management Company – $2,250,000
Lung disease from toxic antigens in an HVAC system caused by a pigeon infestation.
$2,250,000 for our client who unknowingly suffered exposure for over a decade to microscopic air borne particles of pigeon feathers and feces (antigens) that got into the air circulating in her apartment in Yuba City in Sutter County through an open condensate drain tube of the roof-mounted heat pump (HVAC unit). She eventually was diagnosed with hypersensitivity pneumonitis and pulmonary fibrosis (also known as pigeon fanciers disease). The HVAC unit was improperly installed and maintained, as the drain tube should have been connected to a trap, which would have prevented the particulate matter from entering the circulating air. The property owner and property management company left the HVAC unit open to outside air when it was only designed to be protected. Despite constant pigeon infestation on the roof and around the HVAC equipment, property owner and property management company failed to abate the pigeon problem.
Resort Guest v. Resort – $8,000,000
Resort guest thrown from valet’s golf cart due to sharp turn and suffered severe TBI when she struck her head on the driveway’s pavement.
While attending a bachelorette party at a Napa resort, our client fell out of a valet’s golf cart due to the driver making a quick, sharp turn. She struck her head on the driveway and suffered a skull fracture, multiple brain bleeds, and a severe traumatic brain injury, leaving her with significant, permanent, residual cognitive problems. She sustained a coup-contre coup brain injury when her head violently struck the pavement, throwing her brain forward against the rough interior of her frontal skull and significantly damaging her frontal lobes. This secondary impact or “coup” caused brain bleeding, brain contusions, and a traumatic axonal injury (TAI) or shearing of brain cells. The brain bleeds included a left frontal subdural hematoma, several punctate intracerebral hemorrhages in the left temporal lobes, and a bleed in the left frontal lobe. Our client improved through outstanding treatment at Queen of the Valley Medical Center and through extensive rehabilitation at California Pacific Medical Center. Nevertheless, her dramatic, life-altering residual deficits are permanent.
Police Officer v. Property Owner
Police officer suffered serious back injury when he stepped in open hole in building while searching for suspect
Our client, an Oakland police officer, stepped in an open hole in a concrete floor while searching a dark warehouse for an armed suspect with a group of fellow officers. One foot fell into the hold all the way up to his hip while the other foot remained on the concrete floor. As a result of the incident, the officer suffered a disc bulge at L4-5 and L5-S1, causing him to miss a year from work. Our firm represented the officer in a premises liability case against A&B Vehicle Processing, Inc., a towing and vehicle storage company that controlled the premises but failed to maintain it in a reasonably safe condition.
Motorcyclist v. Shopping Center – $2,000,000
Traumatic amputation of motorcyclist’s leg when a pickup truck struck him due to dangerous exit to shopping center
$2,000,000 for motorcyclist operating a Harley Davidson on Twin Cities Road in Galt when he was struck by a pickup truck turning left out of the Galt Village Center and suffered a below the knee (BK) amputation. The left turning driver could not see the motorcycle because it was behind another approaching vehicle. Prior to this collision, 28 substantially similar collisions occurred between driveway traffic and traffic on Twin Cities Road. Despite the collision occurring on the public road and not within the shopping center, our firm successfully advanced a case against the developer of the shopping center (Taylor Properties Development Company), the owner (Guttridge/Taylor LLC, and the property manager (Potter-Taylor and Company) for creating a traffic hazard by not restricting turns out of the shopping center and not installing stop signs.
Family v. Building Owner and Security Company
Man with cardiac arrest in lobby of building died after receiving no aid from building’s security guard
Our firm represented the surviving family of a man who attended a professional meeting at the high-rise building in Sacramento. Immediately upon arrival at the building, he exhibited obvious signs of being ill and laid down on the floor near the restroom in the lobby of the building, sprawled out with outstretched arms, as captured on the building’s video surveillance cameras. Nearby, the building security guard was at his post at the lobby security console that contained video monitors showing clear images of the man on the lobby floor struggling for his life for five minutes. Then, the security guard left his post at the security console to walk to the adjacent parking garage and walked past the man lying on the floor in the public lobby area. The surveillance video footage showed the security guard look at the man lying on the floor and do a double-take due to the extremely uncommon nature of seeing a well-dressed man lying on the lobby floor before simply walking on by and leaving the man to continue to fight for his life without any assistance. The express duties of the security guard included recognizing and immediately reporting any medical emergencies to 9-1-1, but he failed to do either. Eventually, a bystander found the man and called 9-1-1. Other bystanders began to assist with CPR and, recognizing the obvious signs of a cardiac arrest, searched for an AED (automated external defibrillator). After some time, they finally found one, but it failed to work due to having expired electrode pads. By the time paramedics arrived on the scene, the man could not be resuscitated. As a result of the delay in calling 9-1-1, the inability to promptly locate the AED, and the failure to properly maintain the AED, he died at age 61. Our firm brought a wrongful death case in Sacrament County Superior Court against the security company for negligence and the owner/property manager of the building for premises liability.
Our Clients v. Confidential Timber Company – $900,000
Driver crushed under large log stacker
$900,000 settlement to the family of a 56-year-old man who was crushed in his car on his way to work by a LeTourneau, a 90,000-lb. four wheeled log stacker, in a Humboldt County timber mill. The settlement was reached despite the fact that all of the official investigative reports blamed the decedent for the incident and put no blame at all on the operator of the log stacker.
Our Client v. Parking Lot Owner
Woman eating lunch next to parking lot struck by car
After a hike in Point Reyes, our client stopped for lunch at Olema Liquor and Deli at Highway 1 and Sir Francis Drake in Marin County. She sat at a bench next to the parking lot to eat a sandwich when an SUV drove into a parking spot directly in front of the bench and the driver’s foot slipped off the brake pedal and hit the accelerator. The SUV struck our client and pinned her against the bench, causing multiple fractures of her lower legs. The property owner failed to protect patrons from parking vehicles.
Lumper v. SF Wholesale Produce Market – $640,000
Lumper struck by car at SF Wholesale Produce Market
Our client was struck by a car while working as a lumper, assisting truck drivers and produce companies with the loading and unloading of produce, at the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market, owned by the San Francisco Market Corporation and managed by the San Francisco Produce Association. The San Francisco Produce Market, a wholesale market and distribution point for produce where farmers deliver produce to the Market to be sold to bulk consumers, operates on 10 acres on either side and in the median of Jerrold Avenue, a public street without curbs. San Francisco Produce Association had known for many years that the Market’s nightly operation causes congestion, confusion, and chaotic traffic conditions on Jerrold Avenue. Prior to the subject incident, the Market’s management recognized that the Market’s activities created traffic hazards, particularly to pedestrians. Despite this knowledge, the Market’s management took no measures to prevent vehicles from striking pedestrians within the Market. Our client sustained a subarachnoid hemorrhage, multiple rib fractures, an iliac wing fracture, L1 vertebral body fracture, and left tibia/fibula fractures that required an open reduction / internal fixation.
Guest v. Lake Tahoe Vacation Resort
Resort guest suffered severe TBI when he slipped on ice, fell and struck his head
Our 58-year-old client suffered a permanent brain injury when he slipped on an ice-covered handicap ramp leading to the parking lot at the Lake Tahoe Vacation Resort by Diamond Resorts, fell backwards, and struck the back of his head violently on the concrete. The impact knocked him unconscious and caused a grand mal seizure, all witnessed by his wife. The defendant admitted that it ran out of salt used to prevent ice formation of the handicap ramp.
Family v. Cathedral Hill Hotel – $2,400,000
A Christmas tree started a blaze in the Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco, causing the death of a hairdresser
A blaze ignited in the Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco releasing toxic chemicals, including cyanide, from polyurethane foam in cushioned meeting chairs, furnishings, wall coatings, and carpeting. The toxic chemicals essentially disabled decedent, a hairdresser, from escaping before he was killed by the fire. This case settled for $2,400,000.
Football Fan v. Stadium and Security Company
49ers fan at Levi’s Stadium suffers severe TBI from assault in restroom
Our client suffered a serious brain injury from a violent assault in a restroom at Levi’s Stadium just before kick-off at a San Francisco 49ers game in Santa Clara. After several powerful punches to his face that knocked him out, our client fell forward and slammed his head against the concrete floor. He sustained a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) with a skull fracture. After a long history of alcohol-induced criminal behavior, gang activity, fights and assaults at San Francisco 49ers home games, the team failed to protect against foreseeable third-party assaults. The 49ers employed Elite Show Services, Inc. and the Santa Clara Police Department to provide security and police services at Levi’s Stadium but they failed to properly screen fans and deploy appropriate security personnel.
Guest v. Property Owner – $6,450,000
Guest suffered a cervical fracture resulting in quadriplegia after diving into a residential pool at a party.
Our 25-year-old client became a quadriplegic when she dived into a residential swimming pool at a birthday party in Lafayette, Contra Costa County. She served food at the party and consumed alcohol with her friend who lived at the home. They jumped into the pool together and collided, causing our client to strike her head on the bottom of the pool and to sustain a cervical spine fracture that led to her becoming a quadriplegic. The parties can only state that the case has settled.
Delivery worker v. Building Owner & Elevator Company
Free-falling elevator’s sudden stop due to negligent maintenance caused serious knee injuries.
While delivering telephone books in a San Francisco apartment building, the elevator in which our client was riding started to free fall. When the elevator safety brakes suddenly set during the fall, our client sustained serious knee injuries. The owner of the apartment building negligently maintained the elevator and allowed the delivery by elevator. The building defended by arguing the elevator was overloaded.
Driver v. Auto Manufacturer – $3,300,000
Driver suffered spinal fracture resulting in quadriplegia in single vehicle rollover incident after road debris struck rear wheel parking brake cable and activated it, causing the vehicle to lose control.
Our client became a quadriplegic in a rollover accident when his SUV hit a piece of rubber tire retread debris in the road on I-5 in Willows, Glenn County, which activated his rear passenger-side parking brake and locked up the rear wheel, causing his SUV to pull hard to the right off the roadway before it rolled several times. The rear wheels had no protection from such debris and the roof readily crushed in the rollover, causing a C5-6 compression/flexion fracture and subluxation, spinal cord damage, and permanent paralysis.
Landscaper v. Confidential Defendants – $2,150,000
Landscaper suffered serious electrical burn injuries when a tree he cut broke an overhead power line and landed on top of him
$2,150,000 for a landscape worker who suffered serious electrical burn injuries when a high-voltage, overhead power line fell on him after he cut down a eucalyptus tree that contacted the power line as it fell to the ground in Tomales Bay in western Marin County.
Family of Relator v. Property Owner
Realtor died due to a fall down stairs that failed due to dry rot
Our firm represented the surviving husband of a realtor who died after hitting her head in a fall down an interior wooden staircase leading to the basement of the premises in San Francisco during an open house. One of the stairs failed due to extensive dry rot covered up by painting over the area.
Office Manager v. Property Owner – $1,575,000
Office manager tripped and fell over sandbags placed in office doorway to prevent flooding and suffered TBI
$1,575,000 for an office manager in an administrative medical office in Mill Valley who tripped and fell over sandbags placed in front of an exterior door by her employer to prevent recurring flooding of the office, striking her head against a wall and sustaining a traumatic brain injury. The drainage at the building caused water to run towards the offices during moderate rainfall. The owner and landlord of the building, Stephen Pugh, knew of the problem and did nothing to remedy it.
Our Client v. Landlord – $525,000
Our client suffered a wrist laceration when she fell on top of an improperly installed wall-hung sink that had given way, fell to the floor, and shattered.
$525,000 for a woman who suffered a severe laceration of her left wrist when she fell on top of a bathroom sink that had fallen off the wall and shattered on the floor. While showering, she reached to get something from the adjacent medicine cabinet in an apartment in Mill Valley and rested her hand on the front of the wall-hung sink. The improperly installed sink simply gave way and fell to the floor, causing our client to lose her balance and fall on top of the jagged pieces of the broken sink. In the fall, she suffered a laceration of her left wrist that severed an artery, tendons and nerves that required an emergency surgery at Marin General Hospital to repair.
Ski Jumper v. Event Operators
Ski jumper at Oracle Park in San Francisco Icer Air event crashed and suffered internal injuries
While competing in an Icer Air ski jump competition at Oracle Park in San Francisco, our client, an exceptional freestyle skier, landed a ski jump but there was not enough snow on the landing area and she skied onto the exposed wooden stairway, bounced violently down the stairs, and suffered severe internal injuries. The operators of the event, Snow Park Technologies, LLC, a Truckee company, used shaved ice to create a snow-like slope but failed to make enough of it to cover the large scaffold structure used for the ski jumping and built by Brown-United, Inc. The poor design and maintenance of the ski jumping ramp caused our client to suffer multiple internal injuries that required multiple surgeries to repair. Our firm brought suit against several entities involved in the event and the matter has been resolved.
Resort guests v. Resort – $625,000
Resort’s valet golf cart taking our clients to their rooms driven too fast and rolled over, causing serious injuries
Our clients spent their anniversary at a Napa Valley resort. After dinner, a resort employee drove them to their rooms in a six-passenger valet golf cart. The resort employee negligently operated the golf cart so as to cause it to rollover, ejecting our clients. In the incident, the wife suffered a displaced, comminuted fracture of the left clavicle and crush her left hand, causing a degloving injury. The husband struck his head, rendering him unconscious and causing a concussion. The Napa Valley resort settled the case for $625,000.
Tenant v. Property Owner & Management Company – $2,300,000
Man suffered a TBI when he slipped and fell on black ice in his driveway due to over-spray from the sprinkler system.
$2,300,000 for a retired doctor struck his head and sustained a severe traumatic brain injury when he slipped on black ice and fell in the driveway of his rental home in Ukiah, Mendocino County, after Realty World and Selzer Property Management failed to properly maintain the property by allowing the automatic front lawn sprinklers to over-spray into the driveway, then turn into black ice in freezing temperatures. A responding paramedic similarly slipped and fell in the driveway. Our client suffered frontal and temporal lobe contusions.
Motel Guest v. Motel Owner
Truck from motel parking lot crashed through the wall of a motel room and killed a woman in her room
Our firm represented the surviving family members of a woman who was in a guest room at the Beachcomber Motel in Fort Bragg, Mendocino County, when a pickup truck crashed through the wall of the motel room from the parking lot and caused her fatal injuries. The motel owners failed to have any protective measures to prevent vehicles in the parking lot from crashing into rooms.
Tenant v. Landlord – $700,000
A paraplegic suffered third-degree burns from bath water that was too hot
$700,000 for a paraplegic who suffered third-degree burns to both his feet due to scalding hot water when taking a showing in his apartment in Berkeley, Alameda County, when the unreasonably hot water pooled in his bathtub from slow draining pipes.
Skier v. Ski Resort – $2,500,000
Skier suffered serious leg injuries when skied off cliff created by ski resort
$2,500,000 for our client who sustained serious leg injuries when he skied off a 20-foot cliff created by the ski resort when it removed snow to use it to create an adjacent terrain park for snowboarders.