Law Office of Frederick J. Sette
Personal Injury Attorney
Serving The Petaluma California Region

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Petaluma Attorneys Delve into Premises Liability and Balcony Collapse

Petaluma personal injury attorneys at Sette Law know that negligence on the part of some property owners can inflict severe hardship when an oversight causes a painful and costly injury. Lawyers, unfortunately, also encounter negligence cases in which there is a wrongful death.

Our attorneys want to outline some key elements of premises liability to help readers understand this complicated arena of law which was recently highlighted by a tragic accident in Berkeley where six young people died and seven other sustained injuries after a 4th floor balcony collapsed. Our Petaluma personal injury and wrongful death attorneys anticipate premises liability actions will be lodged given the initial findings by building inspectors. In mid-June, our accident lawyers also learned that criminal negligence may lead to manslaughter charges.

As an illustration of how complex this kind of liability is, our personal injury lawyers point out that Alameda County prosecutors may have many potential targets since building inspectors quickly discovered structural flaws that almost certainly contributed to the tragic accident. Attorneys in Petaluma explain that architectural and building problems could potentially be traced to a number of sources such as building owners, management, contractors and/or subcontractors. In fact, our personal injury lawyers say Alameda County's top prosecutor declined to be specific about the targets of her investigation, such as whether it includes the people and businesses who built, owned, managed or maintained the apartment complex. Our injury and wrongful death lawyers say that responsibility may be shared in the event of legal actions.

The Berkeley accident, attorneys say, is one example of premises liability and, as an extreme, it played out across the national (and international) press. In Petaluma, our personal injury attorneys ordinarily deal with liability cases that never rise to this level of public awareness. But, our accident lawyers are well aware of the pain, suffering and costs that individuals suffer when irresponsible property owners allow conditions that lead to death or injury. Our attorneys add that tragic accidents such as the balcony collapse highlight the subject of premises liability and may serve to prevent future wrongful death and personal injury. Experience lawyers know that high profile news stories can, indeed, impact behavior while the liability cases we regularly work will seldom have such widespread influence. Our Petaluma personal injury and wrongful death attorneys will monitor the developments with the hope that the balcony collapse will serve as a lesson that will prevent future accidents, save lives and prevent injury.

Accident attorneys know that most accident victims know little or nothing about premises liability. Our Petaluma personal injury lawyers understand this is entirely natural. However, when it comes to property owners, our accident attorneys have higher expectations. The repercussions of negligence and liability are often severe and individuals should be educated about their legal responsibilities as property owners in Petaluma.

Personal injury lawyers at Sette law advise property owners to be well acquainted with the concept of ‘duty of care.’ Our accident attorneys know this is the underlying concept that will apply to any claim of premises liability that leads to a personal injury. Attorneys explain this is a legal requirement that creates the expectation that individuals exhibit a standard of reasonable care when creating conditions that could potentially lead to harm. For example, our Petaluma injury attorneys refer to a well-known 2001 decision in Florida in which property owners failed to provide adequate security at an apartment complex. The court awarded the victim of a brutal kidnapping and shooting $15.7 million. In this case, the court showed that owners did not demonstrate a duty of care, allowing a dangerous environment that led to a life-threatening injury. Our attorneys hasten to add that proof of such a breech is not simple to reach but the financial consequences can be ruinous to property owners.

There are many kinds of negligence issues associated with premises liability, according Petaluma wrongful death and property lawyers. Among the most commonly recognized is the ‘slip and fall,’ when, say, a patron in a supermarket steps on spilled water, falls and receives a serious injury. But attorneys say that many other environments present similar dangers to the public and responsibilities for property owners. Petaluma accident lawyers deal with diverse liability cases from backyard trampolines to concert venues where conditions may put patrons at risk of injury. Lawyers know that none of these examples is necessarily ‘simple’ in nature. For example, the user of a trampoline might be solely responsible for an accident that led to injury. Or, lawyers explain, it might be the trampoline maker, the owner or even another jumper on the recreational device. Petaluma personal injury attorneys know that determining the responsible party is key to recovering financial damages for the injury. Lawyers for a plaintiff will not be able to win damages if the incorrect responsible party is named.

Our Petaluma personal injury lawyers further explain that determining who is at fault impacts the type of lawsuit filed over the trampoline injury. Lawyers may file a product liability claim against a manufacturer, a negligence claim against a fellow user of the trampoline, or a premises liability action if the owner is found to be responsible for the injury.

Our attorneys offer this deceptively simple example to illustrate the many decision points and avenues a legal case can travel. And, since premises liability includes countless environments and events, our Petaluma accident lawyers must have, not only broad-based knowledge of existing cases, but also specific tactics to steer a case to the most successful path recovery of financial damages due to costly injury.


Attorneys at Sette Law encourage all property owners to become better educated about the responsibilities they bear. We suggest that homeowners delve deeply into their home insurance policies to know their liability for wrongful death or injury, and lawyers trust that all business owners want to know the full extent of potential liability for accidents.  As attorneys we have daily contact with the nuances of premises liability and still, we encounter new situations that require us to dive into research and develop unique solutions to help our Petaluma personal injury clients. Attorneys at Sette Law support safe environments and informed clients.

Safeguard Pedestrian Safety in Petaluma

Personal injury attorneys at Sette Law appreciate nature’s call to enjoy the charming streets and byways of Petaluma. Our accident lawyers, however, are also aware of the grave and sometimes deadly results of a Petaluma pedestrian accident. Our attorneys deal directly with injured people and, sadly, with family members who have lost a loved one in a tragic pedestrian accident. Lawyers, like others close to profound personal loss, seek to keep our neighbors and visitors safe while enjoying the natural beauty that abounds in Petaluma.

Our accident attorneys say one of the allures of our region in Northern California is the near-year around temperate climate that makes Petaluma a walkers dream. However, a pedestrian accident forces injury attorneys to deal with a nightmare. Fortunately, our local area has a relatively low incidence of vehicle and pedestrian accidents our attorneys point out. All the more reason for people to remain vigilant and strive to maintain that good record!

National Figures Show Dangers of Pedestrian Accident

Attorneys look at data from the CDC for national numbers. Shockingly, in 2012, the Center reports that every two hours of the day, one pedestrian is killed and every seven minutes someone is injured in a pedestrian accident. Our attorneys say this risk is 1.5 higher to pedestrians than it is to people in cars. Fortunately, the statistics are quite different for people in Petaluma. Our personal injury lawyers speculate that this disparity may be due, in part, to street and roadway configuration in Petaluma. Local attorneys know that our streets and many rural roads are relatively narrow and not conducive to speeding traffic, unlike those in many big cities where roadways are very wide and constructed for automobile traffic rather than for pedestrians.

Accident attorneys point out that a survey done by the CDC  shows that that 20% of deaths and accidents involved pedestrians age 65 and over. Petaluma personal injury lawyers say streets in urban and suburban areas are often significantly wider, sometimes making it difficult for older people and individuals with disabilities to safely cross streets. Petaluma injury lawyers say that National Safety Council data indicates 85 percent of pedestrian injury accidents take place in urban, verses rural, environments.

Children are also vulnerable to pedestrian accidents. Our attorneys say that accidents involving children are the most trying and emotional of cases they must handle. We are thankful that safety conditions appear to be better in Petaluma. Accident lawyers know that children between five and 15 years of age represent 20 percent of deaths due to a pedestrian accident. Our attorneys recommend that, despite our area’s comparatively strong safety record, drivers remain vigilant about children in the city of Petaluma.

Personal injury lawyers add that our city’s walkable nature does not alter the third highest risk  - drinking and driving. Our injury attorneys are aware of the significant record of accidents caused by persons driving – or walking  -  under the influence of alcohol. Again, we draw upon studies done by the CDC that show 48 percent of accidents resulting in deaths were related to alcohol consumption. Our Petaluma accident lawyers say 34 percent of pedestrians died and 14 percent of DUI motorists were fatalities. Realistically, our personal injury attorneys believe similar figures would apply to the community of Petaluma.

Injury lawyers know Pedestrians are vulnerable in any Petaluma accident. Attorneys say that pedestrians routinely receive the worst injuries in an accident. No matter what speed a car is traveling its weight and thrust (even at 10 mph) can be a deadly weapon against a pedestrian. Our personal injury lawyers know of low speed accidents that have disabled pedestrian victims for life. While proud of our community’s pedestrian safety record, Petaluma accident attorneys urge drivers to be consciously aware of walkers and children playing in neighborhoods.

Pedestrians May Share Responsibility for a Petaluma Accident
Attorneys in California must work within state statutes that specify “negligence” will be related to fault in court.  For example, if a pedestrian darted out into the road from a line of parked cars and was hit by a driver, the pedestrian might bear some responsibility for the accident. Our injury lawyers explain this is related to the concept of “reasonable standard of care.” A pedestrian demonstrating reasonable care would not dash out into moving traffic and, in doing so, may be assessed some responsibility for the accident. Attorneys say this declaration can affect the amount of compensation the injured pedestrian might receive from the driver’s insurance carrier. Our Petaluma accident lawyers explain that a court will determine the percentage of liability for both driver and pedestrian.

Of course, our injury attorneys advise motorists to be hyper-aware of pedestrians in their immediate environment. And the definition of ‘pedestrian’ should be pretty wide, our accident lawyers add. Think kids on skate boards or roller blades, disabled people in motorized chairs, children playing ball. Our Petaluma personal injury attorneys know that sometimes the actions of pedestrians can lead to an accident, but the sheer power of a vehicle to cause harm puts extra onus on drivers.
Finally, our Petaluma accident lawyers share some basic advice for people involved in an accident. Always call for medical help, even if you think injuries are not severe. Injury lawyers know that, in court, the failure of a plaintiff to seek immediate medical attention can be used by a defendant’s accident attorney in court. He or she might claim that no injury happened due to the pedestrian accident. The Lawyer for the plaintiff will have to explain why the injured party didn’t call for medical support, making a case even more challenging for a Petaluma accident lawyer.

Indeed, adjudicating the law can be very complicated, even for seasoned personal injury attorneys. That’s why our Petaluma accident lawyers want to educate our community about public safety and also about issues they may face in court of law. While pleased and proud that our community has a good record of safety regarding Petaluma pedestrian accidents, attorneys at Sette Law believe that we all benefit from working together.

Legal Representation in Petaluma Wrongful Death

Attorneys at Sette Law recognize that little in life is more devastating than a wrongful death. Our lawyers know the personal pain, shock and suffering of surviving family. Because California has a two-year window to file a lawsuit in wrongful death, attorneys work with families before the pain has healed. Of course, our Petaluma wrongful death lawyers are aware that financial compensation for losses never makes up for the death of a loved one. However, as injury and accident lawyers, it’s our experience that lifting financial burdens from the shoulders of survivors can facilitate moving forward.
A wrongful death involves careless and/or intentional actions, recklessness or negligence. Our Petaluma wrongful death lawyers point to medical malpractice, vehicle accidents and industrial accidents as major sources of legal actions in wrongful death. Our attorneys work to establish that our client is, and will continue, to experience emotional and financial hardship due to the loss of a loved one in a Petaluma wrongful death.

Our attorneys seek reimbursement for costs of funerals and for related medical expenses in the wrongful death. But lawyers also look ahead – to the loss of future wages once expected within the family. Just as important to our Petaluma wrongful death lawyers are long term emotional impacts such as loss of companionship, love and personal support caused by the wrongful death. Attorneys also consider another key factor – the negligence that led to the death. Punitive damages in a wrongful death give lawyers an opportunity to speak to the justified anger survivors often feel. Our Petaluma wrongful death attorneys say that family often seeks to protect others from a similar loss by publicly showing the defendant’s liability.

Our Petaluma accident attorneys point to cases that today illustrate this example. Wrongful death lawyers are representing families whose loved ones died in car crashes related to faulty Takata airbags. By holding car makers and Takata responsible for wrongful deaths, attorneys and survivors hope to save others from experiencing the same pain and loss. This legal drama is still unfolding as the companies defend themselves from legal actions.

Petaluma wrongful death lawyers also handle difficult cases involving medical malpractice – incidents in which the acts of physicians caused or contributed to a wrongful death.  Basic to this category of wrongful death is the attorney’s ability to show that a clear patient-doctor relationship existed. Further, we must show the doctor’s negligence caused the Petaluma wrongful death. Our attorneys explain that medical malpractice is a challenging and complex arena of law.

Petaluma wrongful death attorneys most often represent close family members who suffer financial and emotional harm related to a wrongful death. But, lawyers explain that unrelated individuals who experience loss of care or support may also file suit for a wrongful death. But, lawyers know that no matter who is left behind by a wrongful death, we must work with compassion and with an awareness that sudden death brings unimaginable pain to those left in its wake. Petaluma wrongful death attorneys set out on an emotional journey along with clients in each case we handle.

Petaluma Injury Attorneys Advocate for Duty of Care

An accident can sideline life for any individual in Petaluma. Personal injury lawyers can help people recover financially from an accident due to negligence. At Settle Law in Petaluma our injury attorneys are specialists in this niche of law that calls for us to follow relevant cases across the nation to help our clients in Petaluma.

Personal injury lawyers must be prepared to handle a wide range of cases with one important aspect in common: clients must have suffered an injury that was caused by negligence. As we practice this area of litigation, our Petaluma injury lawyers expect each case to be unique yet fall within the legal framework of tort law.

Our clients come to us having suffered financial losses due to the neglect of others – an individual, a company or institution – that’s caused harm to our client in Petaluma. Personal injury lawyers consider many aspects of harm, from financial to medical and emotional. There is public responsibility that requires all parties to adhere to Duty of Care – a legal principle in tort law that calls for attention to safety for all people in Petaluma. Injury attorneys explain the Duty of Care traces its history back to the early 20th century Industrial Revolution when end-users were no longer in personal touch with the makers of products.

According to our Petaluma personal injury lawyers, the principle evolved and, since then, has been tested in courts internationally, and in Petaluma. Injury attorneys study case precedent and monitor the outcome of personal injury lawsuits to best represent clients in Petaluma. Our injury lawyers are prepared for the broad spectrum of cases – from dog bites to injuries related to the recent recall of millions of cars for defects impacting drivers in Petaluma. Personal injury lawyers at Sette Law work to guide clients through the complicated process of winning fair restitution.