Are Property Owners Responsible for Injuries of Uninvited Visitors?
When an individual enters a property, he or she has the right to expect a reasonably safe property. Property owners are legally obligated to take certain precautionary measures to ensure visitors don’t get injured. The specific obligations of a property owner are defined by premises liability law.
History of Visitor Classification
A visitor is legally referred to as a property entrant, and under California law there are three primary categories of property entrants. Traditionally, the classification of an entrant was determined by the specific obligations, or legal duties, of a property owner. However, in 1968 the Supreme Court of California ruled that the category of a visitor is just one component of property injury claims. In a case, the jury will need to consider additional factors to determine the total compensation a plaintiff is eligible to receive.
How Property Visitors Are Classified
Visitors entering public and private properties are divided into the following categories:
- Invitees: Guests on public property, or guests who are invited to a property for the economic benefit of the owner (for example, shoppers in a store).
- Licensees: Guests invited to a property for social reasons, not to give any economic benefit to the owner (for example, friends invited to lunch at a home).
- Trespassers: People who enter a property uninvited, against the wishes of the owner.
Property owners carry the highest level of obligation to the safety of invitees, compared to other types of visitors. The property owner is required to inspect the premises, identify defects or hazardous conditions, and either post a written warning of dangerous conditions or make reasonable efforts to correct the hazards.
Property owners have an intermediate obligation to licensees. Before a licensee visits a property, the owner should make an effort to correct dangerous conditions. If the licensee has arrived and the repairs haven’t been done, property owners must provide a warning about known hazards on the property.
Finally, property owners have a minimal obligation to trespassers. Property owners are not allowed to set traps for trespassers and must warn trespassers of serious hazards, but only if the owner was aware of trespassers repeatedly coming onto their property.
The Importance of Visitor Classification
In the past, California courts exclusively considered the category of a visitor when determining the legal obligations of property owners for visitors’ injuries. But in the 1968 case Rowland v. Christian, the California Supreme Court ended this rigid system after an injured victim lost a case before a jury was even given the opportunity to consider the evidence. In that case, the judge ruled the victim didn’t have a valid argument to make under the current classification of visitors.
Today, juries in California take into account a wide range of factors when considering the victim’s right to compensation in property injury cases. The jury’s goal is to determine whether the property owner was reasonable in protecting visitors from harm. California Civil Jury Instructions 1001 defines the factors the jury is required to consider in assessing the liability of the property owner.
Fatal Car Accidents in the U.S.
Car accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers and younger adults. Although fatal car accidents have been decreasing recently due to advances in car design, some modifiable driver-associated behaviors can further reduce the risk of fatal car accidents.
Wear Your Seatbelt
Wearing your seatbelt is the easiest way to reduce your risk of dying in a car crash. In most states, you can be ticketed for not wearing your seatbelt, and most modern cars emit alarms until you comply and buckle up.
Obey the Speed Limit
Speed limits are set for good reasons. Roads that have lower speed limits are more likely to have pedestrians and other cars suddenly enter the road, and drivers going too fast will be unable to react in time. On highways, the speed limits are also based on reaction times to sudden events and whether cars can safely negotiate curves. During adverse weather conditions, it is essential to slow down and drive below the speed limit.
Focus on Driving
Distracted drivers are a major cause of serious car accidents. When you are driving, you need to drive. Texting, fiddling with the radio, talking on a cell phone (even a hands-free unit), and conversing with a passenger or singing along with the music can all result in an accident.
Impaired drivers are involved in many fatal accidents. Impairment doesn’t just refer to having drunk alcohol; drivers who are tired, on prescription medication, or sick may also be impaired.
Teenage drivers have a three-fold higher risk of getting in a fatal accident than adult drivers. Male teenage drivers are the major cause of fatal teen driver accidents, with a two-fold higher risk of getting in a fatal accident than female teenage drivers. Most of these crashes are due to inexperience and poor judgment, but some modifiable factors have been identified that also contribute to young driver accidents:
- Reckless driving
- Driving at night
- Having teenage passengers in the car
- Impaired driving
Some states and parents have responded to the high rate of young driver fatalities by forbidding them to drive at night or to transport teenage passengers.
Adverse weather can also contribute to fatal crashes. Weather conditions that cause poor visibility, such as heavy fog, have caused many multi-car pileups. Slippery conditions like black ice, rain, and snow can cause serious accidents. Before driving in adverse weather, drivers should consider whether a) their vehicle can handle the conditions (e.g., snow tires, AWD, fog lights), and b) they have sufficient driving experience to handle such conditions.
You Can Prevent Workplace Falls
Falls, according to OSHA and the CDC, can occur in pretty much any type of workplace setting. Trips, slips, and falls also have the potential to contribute to head injuries and other serious or even fatal injuries, which is why you’ll want to make an effort to prevent workplace falls from happening in the first place whenever possible. Here’s what you can do to turn this goal into a reality.
Clear Inside/Outside Pathways
Any pathway that’s commonly used by employees and customers should be kept clear. This includes ones inside where workers normally travel to perform their duties, get supplies, or transfer items from one location to another. Exterior pathways should also be kept clear of debris.
Look for Potential Fall Hazards
Do a regular inspection of your workplace to look for common fall hazards. Such hazards typically include unsecured rugs or carpets, power, Internet, and phone cords that aren’t secured or neatly tied or grouped together, and equipment or office furniture that’s awkwardly placed or positioned.
Make Sure Correct Shoes Are Worn
In some work environments, preventing workplace falls means having the right footwear. Shoes with better traction, for example, would be appropriate for a work environment where floors tend to be slippery, or where workers routinely travel in and out of a building.
Bonus Tip: In office settings, it may be appropriate to place reasonable restrictions on high heels and other types of shoes that tend to contribute to falls.
Steps and other fall hazards can be hidden or not clearly visible to busy employees not paying close attention. This is why having sufficient indoor and outdoor lighting is important in work environments. Strategically placed spotlights or illuminated steps are among the lighting options that can work well in some workplaces.
Have Common Sense Rules for Ladders
If ladders and step stools have to be used regularly in your workplace, make sure they are used correctly. This goal can be accomplished with periodic ladder safety training, making sure someone else is there to hold the ladder in place when it’s being used, and posting instructions for safe ladder/step stool use.
Bonus Tip: It’s also a good idea to make sure proper options for getting to higher areas are available to prevent employees from using unsafe alternatives like desks or chairs.
The risk of falls in the workplace can also be reduced with proper signage if there are areas that tend to get slippery. Non-skid throw rugs can be helpful in such areas as well. Lastly, workplace falls may become less of an issue if there is a clear policy in place to clean up spills quickly and take other sensible steps to mitigate fall risks.
Car Accident Stats of 2019
Fatal car crashes
- 26,730 deaths
- A 2.2% decrease from this period of time in 2018
Slightly more than half (58%) of all fatal car crashes involve only one vehicle. Fatal crashes are more common on Saturdays, particularly in the evening and from midnight to 3 am. Fatal car accidents are also significantly more likely to occur during the summer and early fall months. Around half of the fatal accidents occur at night.
Fatal car crashes are evenly split between vehicle-vehicle collisions and vehicle collisions with a stationary object like a pole or tree.
Although data for pedestrians killed by vehicles is not yet available for 2019, in 2018, 6,227 pedestrians were killed. Deaths of pedestrians hit an all-time low of around 4000 in 2009 and have been increasing every year since then. Experts speculate the popularity of larger vehicles like SUVs, which cause more pedestrian damage, may be involved in this increase. The vast majority of pedestrian deaths occur at night.
The vehicles involved
The drivers involved
- 40% were people driving under the influence
- 30% involved excessive speed
- 33% were caused by reckless or irresponsible driving
- 20% involved a driver under the age of 21, despite that age group only comprising 5.4% of all drivers
Among all accidents, an estimated 25%, or 1.6 million crashes, involved a driver using a cell phone while driving. A recent study of drivers in a simulator showed that drivers holding a cell phone and using it had their risk of a crash go up by 2 to 3.5 times. A similar increase was not seen when the drivers were using a hands-free cell phone device.
Understanding Birth Injuries
Birth defect or birth injury?
Causes of birth injuries
Elements of a claim
Understanding the Claims Process for Workers’ Compensation
If you’ve been injured while on the job, you may be able to file a workers’ compensation insurance claim. Once you’ve been injured, you’ll have a short period of time to file an insurance claim that will allow you to receive compensation, which is why it’s important to understand what the process entails and which steps you should take.
Reporting the Injury
The first step of the claims process occurs when the injured worker reports the injury to their employer. While reporting deadlines differ per state, you’ll typically be required to notify your employer within 30 days of the injury. There are some injuries like mesothelioma that develop over a lengthy period of time, which means that you should notify your employer immediately after you notice any symptoms.
Employer Provides Proper Paperwork
Once your employer has been notified of the injury, they are required by law to provide the employee with the proper forms pertaining to the insurance claim as well as information about the insurance benefits. The exact information that you receive depends on several factors, which include the type and extent of your injury as well as the state where the employer is based. Failure to provide the proper documentation and information to the injured worker can open up the employer to a lawsuit.
Claim Is Filed
Once you’ve filled out the insurance claim with the assistance of a lawyer, your employer will be required to submit the paperwork to the appropriate insurance carrier. The injured worker’s doctor will also need to mail any related medical reports. There are times when the employer will be required to submit certain documentation to the state’s compensation board.
Claim Is Either Approved or Denied
After the insurance carrier in question has received the insurance claim, they will take a short period of time to determine if the claim should be approved or denied. In the event that the claim is approved, you will shortly receive information pertaining to the payment and compensation that you’re set to receive. If the insurer has approved the claim, you will have the choice to accept the initial offer or negotiate for a larger settlement. Any offer that you receive should cover such expenses as medical bills, lost wages, and disability payments. If the claim is denied for any reason, you can appeal the decision or ask the insurance company to review their decision.