Articles Posted in Premises Liability

Los Angeles is filled with so many broken sidewalks that make them unsafe for pedestrians and also extremely dangerous to actually unusable for the handicapped.  These sidewalks have numerous split elevations, deviations, cracks and are just broken, often due to tree roots.  In fact, according to a Los Angeles Times editorial, it’s estimated that 80% of sidewalk damage is from adjacent trees.  The Los Angeles City Council has committed $1.4 billion over the next 30 years to repair its sidewalks.

Apparently developers in Los Angeles planted fast growing trees in narrow public rights of way with little thought to the future that outgrew their areas, and their roots pushed up and broke surrounding public cement sidewalks.  As a result, public sidewalks became unsafe and dangerous to use.

L.A. used to require property owners to fix their sidewalks by their homes and commercial properties.  But when these trees started causing massive damage, unhappy property owners started protesting this expense and the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance (city law) for free repairs to sidewalks damaged by trees, but it failed to adequately budget for this huge repair bill.

Recently, city officials estimated that 40% of the city’s 10,000 miles of sidewalks are in need of repair. Further, Los Angeles pays out $4 to $6 million a year on trip and fall personal injury claims in the city.  As a result, disability rights advocates actually sued the City of Los Angeles for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.  In April of 2015 this suit was settled with L.A. agreeing to pay over $30 million a year to repair the damaged sidewalks.  Amazingly, L.A. contends this large amount still is not sufficient and reportedly is considering a plan to shift sidewalk repairs back to the adjacent property owners.  If L.A. cannot fix the problem and there is a need to make the sidewalks safe as fast as possible, the question is, should the cost be shifted back to the property owners for an affordable, quicker fix?   If this is done, the next question is what could be done to make this process go as easily as possible?  One thing cities do or could do in such circumstances is to waive permits or permit fees for these repairs.

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6 people died today and others suffered serious injuries when an apartment balcony they were on collapsed. The apartment balcony collapse accident happened in Berkeley, California, and the victims appear to be Irish citizens in California on short term work visas (J-1).

According to cnn.com, this tragic incident happened at the Library Gardens Apartment. In addition to the six people who were reportedly killed in this accident, at least another seven people have serious injuries for which they have been hospitalized.

It is not yet clear exactly what caused this balcony to collapse, but reports suggested the entire balcony tore away from the building, from the 4th floor. Berkeley police reported that the incident occurred between 12 and 1am this morning.

There are many legal ramifications for a tragic incident such as this one. First, the heirs of the wrongful death victims should file California wrongful death claims against the apartment complex. In addition, the severely injured guests or residents of the apartment may make personal injury claims against the apartment complex.

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According to the Los Angeles Times, a man suffered serious leg injuries today when a 1,000 pound sign fell on his legs at a Mobil gas station in Calabasas. The Calabasas gas station accident apparently occurred when he was working on a sign installation when it fell on him and seriously injured his legs. The man was rescued by local firefighters and airlifted to a hospital.

In this particular Calabasas accident, the injured man will probably make a worker’s compensation claim, as he was injured while working. However, it should be analyzed by an experienced personal injury attorney to see if there is any potential liability against any third parties for contributing to the cause of this particular accident. If a third party is responsible for the premises liability injuries, there may be more of a financial recovery available to compensate this man for his injuries.

A nightclub fire in Brazil early Sunday morning has resulted in the deaths of at least 231 people. According to the New York Times, the fire, which occurred at the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil, apparently started when a flare from a stage performance ignited the ceiling. It is possible that the flare ignited exposed wiring, leading to the tragic nightclub fire.

Patrons at the nightclub died from fire injuries, including smoke inhalation, as well as from being trampled to death in the scramble to exit the club. In addition to the deaths, over 100 people were injured, including many in critical condition.

Some reports have indicated that security may have blocked some people from exiting the club. One of those reports said that security was making people pay their tabs before leaving. If true, the actions of the security may have led to many more lives being lost in the fire.

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The California Supreme Court has sided with Great America Amusement Park in an important bumper car accident case.

In a decision limiting liability of amusement parks for amusement park accidents to patrons, the California Supreme Court ruled on December 31, 2012, that the Great American Amusement Park is not liable for amusement park injuries suffered to a rider of a bumper car resulting from the inherent nature of the attraction.

The California Supreme Court previously held in a case relating to sports (touch football) injuries: “In cases involving ‘primary assumption of risk’–where, by virtue of the nature of the activity and the parties’ relationship to the activity, the defendant owes no legal duty to protect the plaintiff from the particular risk of harm that caused the injury–the doctrine continues to operate as a complete bar to the plaintiff’s recovery.” Knight v. Jewett (1992) 3 Cal. 4th 296. The court now has extended this doctrine to recreational activities, limiting liability for injuries resulting from amusement park rides.

In a suit brought by Smriti Nalwa, due to her fracturing her wrist while trying to brace herself by putting her hand on the car’s dashboard in a head on bumper car collision, the California Supreme Court ruled 6 to 1 that her accident injury was caused by the collision with another bumper car, a normal part of the ride. According to the Los Angeles Times (AA1, January 1, 2013), the court stated, “A small degree of risk inevitably accompanies the thrill of speeding through loops, defying gravity or, in bumper cars, engaging in the mock violence of low-speed collisions. Those who voluntarily join in these activities also voluntarily take on their minor inherent risks.”

In analyzing the legal doctrine of assumption of the risk and recreational activities that inherently involve some risks, the court stated that riders assume some risks when voluntarily riding on bumper cars, specifically stating “[T]he primary assumption of risk doctrine is not limited to activities classified as sports, but applies as well to other recreational activities ‘involving an inherent risk of injury to voluntary participants . . . where the risk cannot be eliminated without altering the fundamental nature of the activity.’ (Beninati v. Black Rock City, LLC, supra, 175 Cal.App.4th at p. 658.)”

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An elevator accident in Long Beach, California on Wednesday, at the campus of California State University at Long Beach, resulted in the death of an employee of the school. Annette Lujan, a Huntington Beach resident, who worked for the university, died after being crushed by the malfunctioning elevator.

The elevator accident occurred after the elevator first became stuck in between the second and third floors. After an unrevealed period of time, Ms. Lujan apparently climbed out of the elevator. However, after she climbed out, the elevator began to move again and the 2,000 pound elevator car crushed her to death.

The cause of this elevator accident is still being investigated. It has been reported that the elevator was last inspected in April, 2011, and no problems were reported at that time. The Los Angeles Times also reports that officials have said that this accident shows the danger of trying to escape an elevator after it stops and becomes stuck.

Many people have fears that an elevator may break down while they are in it, and this causes anxiety in many people who ride elevators, particularly when they are crowded with people, it is a small elevator or it is in an older building.

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A Baldwin Hills car accident this morning involving a woman who drove her car through the doors to a mall before her vehicle was stopped by the second floor guardrail fortunately did not result in any injuries to the driver, passenger or any bystanders. The car accident in Baldwin Hills happened before 9:00am, and fortunately the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza mall had not yet opened.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the woman, who is 37 years old, who is reportedly not a licensed driver, accidentally hit the gas when she meant to hit the brake, causing her to crash through the mall doors, into the mall and almost halfway through the second floor railing, which was 20 feet high. Had the 1986 Acura Legend gone completely through the railing and crashed down into the first floor, serious injuries to the driver and passenger would likely have occurred.

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According to Fox 11 News, the Los Angeles Yoshinoya tow truck crash, which occurred at approximately 10:40 this morning, resulted in injuries to at least seven people, who were treated by paramedics. Five of those injured in the Los Angeles truck crash into Yoshinoya were taken to nearby hospitals, including the person who suffered very serious injuries.

Click here to see video from Fox 11 News in Los Angeles, showing the tow truck partly inside Koreatown Yoshinoya restaurant after the accident. The video shows that the tow truck was carrying a small red pick up truck at the time of the Yoshinoya truck crash.

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Tragically, the four year old boy, Nico Lurie, who suffered catastrophic injuries from a 3 story fall on Sunday, has died as a result of his injuries, in a Marina Del Rey wrongful death incident.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, the young boy apparently fell through a window screen, on the third story of the residential building, known as the Mira Bella Apartments, in Marina Del Rey, California. According to reports from ABC News, the boy was playing with friends on a bunk bed near the window when he fell through the window, landing on the concrete walkway below.

Police have said that criminal charges will not be filed and reminded parents not to place furniture near windows or other hazards.

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A four year old boy suffered serious and life threatening injuries when he reportedly fell from the third floor of a high rise building in Marina Del Rey, California. The boy was taken by Los Angles paramedics to Ronald Reagan Medical Center, part of the University of California at Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Police Department said the boy’s condition is “grave” after the three story fall in Marina Del Rey. According to the Los Angeles Times, the reason for the fall is unknown at this time.

When children fall from buildings, there could be various reasons, including negligent supervision by adults, or faulty safety precautions on the part of the building. Some balcony railings negligently have gaps or holes that a small child can fit through, which can lead to a disastrous fall and a Marina Del Rey premises liability case.

Some children may also be able to climb over a low balcony railing, which also may not be up to code and may constitute negligence on the part of the building owner, contractor and/or designer.

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