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.

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