From ‘wet floor’ signs to road closures, people in California often feel like others are controlling their every move. But warnings and closings are generally there to protect people and fulfill the social duty to prevent others from harm. These obligations under the law, however, have limits.

Where do a person’s or organization’s responsibilities end?

In the case of premises liability, it is generally understood that ownership or management of a property conveys a responsibility for visitor and customer safety within the legal bounds of that property — although that responsibility is limited to what is reasonable under the circumstances. Liability usually ends at the property line.

Does premises liability apply anywhere else?

A case decided by the Supreme Court of California called Vasilenko v. Grace Family Church clarified the limits of a property owner’s liability in certain cases. The plaintiff in the case mentioned above sued for damages after he was struck by a car while crossing the street from a nearby parking lot. The plaintiff claimed the defendant increased his risk by placing its lot across the street from the business, but the court ruled no one could be held responsible for the dangers of the public street.

Does a property owner have to make public access points easier for the plaintiff to manage?

The suit stipulated that the defendant could have assisted people in crossing the street, but landowners do not have a duty to ease access to their property through any publicly maintained space.

What are people’s options when they are injured on another’s property?

Frankly, every situation is unique. You may not really know your options until you’ve done some investigation with a reliable source. An attorney can be helpful after someone has been injured on someone else’s property, whether it is private or commercial. A consultation can often help you understand your options.