Defining the duty of care of property owners

Like most in San Jose, you understand that when you own property, you are responsible for whatever happens on it. The issue of liability for any accidents or injuries that occur on your land or in your home, however, can often be very complex. Many have come to us here at Shea & Shea – A Professional Law Corporation asking whether any issues that occur on their properties are automatically their fault, or whether or not personal responsibility on the part of the injured party plays a role. If you have the same question, then it is important that you understand your duty of care as a property owner. 

Section 1001 of California’s Civil Jury Instructions show that you must exercise reasonable care in identifying and repairing, replacing or offering a warning of any potential hazards that exist on your property. If someone is injured on your property, the court considers the following factors when assigning blame: 

  • The likelihood that someone would enter on to your property in the manner the injured party did
  • The likelihood of any conditions existing on your property could cause harm (and the potential extent of that harm)
  • Whether you should have reasonably known of the potential risks posed by such a condition
  • The extent of control you had over the condition ever arising in the first place
  • The difficulty in protecting others from said condition

California law does not assign you any specific duties to care for people on your property based on visitor status (yet it may take such status into account when assigning liability). Thus, while you are expected to keep your property safe, a trespasser on your property may not be protected from liability in the same way an invitee is. 

More information on property owner liability issues can be found throughout our site. 

Categories: Personal Injury Law

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