When you go shopping at the mall or visit a friend, you do not expect to suffer catastrophic injuries. However, if a property has poor lighting, people visiting the property may be as good as blind. In the dark, they may miss broken parking bumpers, wires, potholes, or other obstructions that increase the risk of injuries. At The Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC, our California premises liability attorneys are available to represent people who have been injured due to poor lighting.
Poor Lighting Causes Serious Risks
Property owners in California are expected to keep their premises reasonably safe for visitors. This means that they are supposed to regularly inspect the property to see if there are any hazards, and they are supposed to make repairs or issue warnings if they notice any dangerous conditions. Lighting in the form of overhead lights, floor lights, bulbs, or other forms of illumination is important because it tends to make the premises safer so that a visitor can avoid potential hazards.
To establish a premises liability case, whether it is based on a slip and fall or a dangerous property condition, you will need to show actual or constructive prior notice. In other words, a property owner must know or have reason to know about the poor lighting to be held responsible for it. In most cases, your lawyer will need to show constructive prior notice by proving how long the poor lighting was there. If it was there for just a few hours after a bulb burned out, this is probably not long enough to give the property owner constructive notice. However, if the bulbs went out in a parking lot over a period of several weeks, but the owner did not bother to rectify the situation, this is probably long enough to provide constructive notice. An owner in that situation should replace the bulbs, put in emergency lighting, put up illuminated warning signs about any hazards, or restrict access to the location with poor lighting.
In some cases, property owners can be held liable for third-party assaults that occurred due to poor lighting. In negligent security cases, a victim of a third-party assault sues the property owner for their injuries. In most cases, the perpetrator cannot be held accountable in civil court because they do not have the resources to pay damages. A negligent security lawsuit can be brought when a property has a history of similar third-party attacks of which the owner knew or should have known, yet it failed to guard against them.
Often, poor lighting is what enables people to commit violent crimes in parking lots, in the alleys next to bars, or at gas stations. The criminal may assume that they will get away with it because the victim cannot see them for the purposes of identification. An owner who knows about multiple muggings outside his convenience store, for instance, may owe an obligation to customers to make sure that the lighting is sufficient and that other precautionary measures are taken.
Damages that you may be able to recover if you are injured as a result of poor lighting include economic and noneconomic losses. Economic losses if you fractured your ankle because you could not see a bumper in a parking lot, for example, could include wage loss, emergency room treatment, medical bills, and rehabilitation. Noneconomic losses could include pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life. Your own characteristics and interests can affect the amount of damages. A good attorney will look at how the injuries affected you personally when negotiating with insurers or presenting your case to a jury.