Personal injury law addresses the liability of those who injure people due to negligent or other wrongful acts. The basis of liability and how you establish it can differ based upon whether your injury occurred at the hands of normal activities or professional services. Premises liability attorneys can pursue both types of claims.
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What Are General Liability Claims?
A personal injury attorney in Los Angeles pursues general liability claims for those injured by non-professional activities, regular operations or property hazards of business owners. The area of general liability law covers a broad array of negligent acts and omissions. The claims and lawsuits that arise from such negligence or accidents often are common across various types of businesses and properties.
Types of General Liability Claims
Premises liability. A premises liability lawyer in Los Angeles can represent you if you’re injured because a landowner negligently maintained or managed the property on which you were injured. California law extends responsibility for using reasonable care to keep premises free of unreasonable risks to those who possess or control the premises, not merely the owner of the property. This includes a business or individual who rents or regularly occupied the premises.
Examples of premises liability cases include:
*Slip and falls resulting from objects or liquid that remains on floors, broken steps, inadequately secured or non-sturdy rails
- Falling objects
- Malfunctioning smoke detectors, fire alarm or fire prevention systems
- Toxic fumes or chemicals
- Injuries from elevators or escalators
- Accidents on amusement park rides
- Inadequate security
Claims based on inadequate security arise when a landowner -- especially a hotel or motel owner -- fails to take reasonable steps to protect against reasonably foreseeable crime. These measures, the absence of which may cause someone to be injured by a criminal, include locking side doors and back doors, posting security guards and providing adequate lighting. A Los Angeles premises liability attorney may pull police reports from the area to establish that the defendant should have foreseen the risk of criminal activity and failed to address it through reasonable security.
Torts by Employees. You may be able to sue an employer for the negligent acts and omissions of the employee. Injuries may occur when, for example, a repair person at someone’s home drops a tool or piece of equipment upon an occupant’s head. Negligence by employees may include serving an unsuspecting diner at a restaurant with cleaner or other chemicals rather than an actual beverage.
In many cases, the general liability of the employer turns upon vicarious liability. That is, an employer must answer for the negligence of an employee acting within the course and scope of employment even if the employer did nothing wrong. When an employee commits an intentional wrong, such as assault, it becomes more difficult to argue that such intentional torts advance the interests of or are part of the employee’s duties. In those cases, a personal injury injury lawyer in Los Angeles may base the claim upon negligent hiring or negligent supervision.
Products Liability. Some general liability policies pay damages for manufacturers, wholesalers or dealers whose products injure you. Products liability cases arise if you are injured because of a flaw in the design or manufacturer of a product. You may also sue manufacturers or sellers who fail to adequately warn you of the dangers of a product.
What are Professional Liability Claims?
Plaintiffs also suffer harm from the negligent acts of those who undertake professional services. Errors and omissions policies and malpractice insurance pay damages for losses arising from professional negligence.
Many of the damages in professional liability claims are purely economic. For instance, an accountant who negligently prepares tax returns may be liable to a taxpayer who ends up unexpectedly having to pay penalties and interest or spend money to contest an audit. Lawyers who failed to file lawsuits within the statute of limitations may cost their clients money in recovering contracts or other money losses from, say, the fraudulent acts of the person the lawyer was supposed to sue.
Some malpractice claims do involve people suffering personal injuries that require medical attention and may involve long-lasting pain and suffering. Often, medical malpractice cases produce these kinds of injuries.
Types of Professional Liability Defendants
In most instances, a defendant and a professional liability case holds a license by the state to engage in the particular practice of that profession. These professionals and defendants include:
- General contractors or construction managers
Architects, engineers, construction managers and contractors employ their professional skill, knowledge and expertise in the construction. If you’re injured from a collapsing structure or some other defect in the building, you need a Los Angeles premises liability attorney with the ability to identify the standard of care that applies to the professional and how it was violated.
The Need for Expert Witnesses
Unlike in most (but not all) general liability cases, plaintiffs in professional liability suits must have an expert who can testify to the standard of care and how the professional fell short of the mark. The expert must also be able to explain or show how the malpractice harmed the plaintiff.
The requirement of an expert in professional liability cases flows from the existence of specialized knowledge and concepts often not found in general liability cases. It normally does not take an expert witness to show that a landowner or person in control allowed liquids or objects to remain too long on the floor. The same likely cannot be said if your claim turns on the failure of the engineer to ensure the floor is adequately strong.
The Timing of Harm
In most general liability claims, the harm occurs often instantaneously or within a relatively short time after the negligent or wrongful act. Injuries in professional malpractices cases may not happen for a significant period of time, perhaps months or years (if ever). Products liability cases are a notable exception to this general principle.
When a harm occurs and when you discover (or should have) discovered it plays a critical role in whether you have waited too long to bring your lawsuit. California has a two-year statute of limitations in personal injury cases. The deadline normally begins to run from the time that the negligent act occurs, for that is when you are injured and discover some injury. In many professional negligence cases, especially of the medical malpractice variety, you may not know or discover you have been injured until sometime after the actual injury. California’s "delayed discovery rule" provides that the statute of limitations does not run until you know or should have discovered that you were harmed.
Acts of professional negligence may have occurred so long that your claim is time-barred regardless of when you discover the injury. The statute of repose provides that a defect, such as in the design of a building or other construction, or other act of malpractice cannot give rise to a damages claim after the passage of a certain period of time from the act of malpractice.
Why Do You Need to Contact a Personal Injury Attorney in Los Angeles?
Premises liability attorneys help those injured from acts that can give rise to general liability claims and professional liability claims. When you allege that some professional’s failure caused your harm, specific and complicated rules of expert testimony and time limits often appear. Contact a premises liability lawyer in Los Angeles if you’re injured by the acts of professionals or non-professionals.