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Conditions Creating Premises Liability

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October 12, 2017
Edward Smith


Conditions Creating Premises Liability

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Premises Liability Attorney. Possessors of land have a duty to people outside the premises to maintain safe conditions. An owner’s negligence or disregard for the safety of others can make them responsible should an accident occur.

Specific Types of Conditions

Generally, a variety of conditions on land have been found to create a duty of care on the possessor. For example, a downhill neighbor sued the uphill landowner for damages caused by a landslide. While the uphill owner did not cause the landslide, the courts found that the uphill owner failed to take reasonable measures to control a slide that should have been expected. Similarly, a downhill neighbor who’s actions negligently compromise the lateral support of a neighboring lot may be found liable for creating the condition.

Another unsafe condition that can be produced by an owner’s negligence is that of falling tree branches. Considering that many species of tree’s limbs have a natural propensity to fall, an owner who was negligent in maintaining his landscaping could be found liable if a person was hurt when a tree limb fell on them.

State of Disrepair

An owner may be held liable for allowing a condition on the land to fall into a state of disrepair. To return to the example of unmaintained landscaping; an owner who allowed the roots of a tree on his property to cause an irregular break in the adjoining sidewalk was found to be responsible for the injuries sustained by a pedestrian who tripped on the crack.

Owners and possessors have a duty to maintain the safety of others, and neglecting to maintain their property can constitute negligence that led to an accident. For example, a business owner was held liable when the awning in front of her store fell on a passerby because the owner failed to maintain the structure which was obviously in deteriorated condition. Similarly, when a theater marquee fell on a patron, the operator was held liable because they had constructive knowledge of the marquee’s support having been compromised by recent remoldeling by the building’s owner.

Traffic Obstruction

Many people know that obscured road signs can relieve their responsibility for parking tickets, but obscured signs can also make property owners responsible for related accidents. If a possessor’s shrubbery obscures a driver’s view of an upcoming intersection, impairs the drivers view of vehicles exiting an adjacent property onto a roadway, or obscures a stop sign, that owner may be held responsible for a resulting collision.


A possessor’s general duty to maintain reasonably safe conditions includes the duty to refrain from unreasonable fire risks. Improper or negligent storage of highly flammable materials on a property is an example of such an unreasonable risk. Negligently storing flammable materials, or knowingly permitting their negligent storage, may incur liability because the substance will cause greater damages than would otherwise occur. Likewise, the owner of an improperly constructed electrical or telephone line that causes a fire might be found to be responsible for damages.

More from Sacramento Premises Liability Lawyer, Ed Smith

Sacramento Accident and Premises Liability Lawyer

I’m Edward A Smith, a Sacramento Premises Liability Attorney. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident because of the negligence of a possessor or property owner, reach out to me by calling (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, compassionate, and friendly advice. I am also available online via my website,

I have been serving the Sacramento and Greater California community as an accident lawyer for over thirty years, helping injured people and their families recover. Take a look at some of my client reviews on: Avvo, Google, and Yelp.

You can find case summaries of Verdicts and Settlements I have won for my clients on my website,

I am honored to be included in the Million Dollar Forum, an association for trial lawyers who have achieved case verdicts and settlements in excess of one million dollars.

Photo Attribution: Wikimedia Commons, Supreme Court by Kjetil Ree(916) 921-6400. CC BY-SA 3.0
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