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California premises liability law vs. sovereign immunity

Premises liability cases often turn on the responsibility of a property owner or occupier to you if you are injured due to a condition on the property, or because of negligence on the part of an employee of a business.

But what happens if you are injured on property owned by the state of California, or of one if its counties or municipalities? Does premises liability law treat the government differently from a private individual or business?

The answer to that question, as a general rule, used to be "Yes." A legal doctrine known as "sovereign immunity" shielded governments from liability on tort or contract claims, and in some ways this doctrine is still in effect in California. But over the years the state legislature has reduced the effects of sovereign immunity, so that today people can bring some types of claims against the government. One such change has been to waive sovereign immunity in cases where a person is injured on government property. The applicable law reads:

"A public entity is not liable for injury caused by its

failure to make an inspection, or by reason of making an inadequate or negligent inspection, of any property, other than its property (as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 830), for the purpose of determining whether the property complies with or violates any enactment or contains or constitutes a hazard to health or safety."

Therefore, it seems that in California you can at least explore the possibility of suing the government if you suffer harm on government property, although you will still likely want to consult with a personal injury attorney to make sure that you comply with all of the necessary requirements to initiate a premises liability lawsuit (such as the applicable statute of limitations).

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Law Offices of William W. Green & Associates
505 S. Villa Real
Anaheim, CA 92807

Phone: 714-464-6903
Toll Free: 866-543-7598
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