What is “premises liability?”

If you have been injured by an accident on someone else’s property, you may have a valid claim for recovery of medical expenses, lost earnings and pain and suffering damages- through an avenue called “premises liability.” Premises liability is a legal description for negligence that occurs in the use or maintenance of property. The California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) identify premises liability as follows:

[Name of plaintiff] claims that [he/she] was harmed because of the way [name of defendant] managed [his/her/its] property. To establish this claim, [name of plaintiff] must prove all of the following:

1. That [name of defendant] [owned/leased/occupied/controlled] the property;

2. That [name of defendant] was negligent in the use or maintenance of the property;

3. That [name of plaintiff] was harmed; and

4. That [name of defendant]’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing [name of plaintiff]’s harm.

Under the law in California, a person or entity that maintains property has an obligation to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition,  as set forth in CACI 1001:

A person who [owns/leases/occupies/controls] property is negligent if he or she fails to use reasonable care to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition. A person who [owns/leases/occupies/ controls] property must use reasonable care to discover any unsafe conditions and to repair, replace, or give adequate warning of anything that could be reasonably expected to harm others.


There are many scenarios that may involve property that is not maintained in a safe or reasonable condition. If you are involved in an accident on property, make sure you take photographs of the condition as soon as you can after the accident.