Under common law, the builder’s legal liability is extinguished to third parties when the owner has accepted the building. This exemption does not apply to those hazards that areHidden (latent) v. Obvious (patent) Defects latent in nature. The context of patent defect “refers to the patency of danger and not merely the exterior visibility.” While the condition may be patent, the danger may not be known or appreciated by the reasonable person. Therefore, it is considered latent. Some model codes, such as the Uniform Building Code at Section 3402 or the International Building Code at Section 3401.2, require that the owner of the property or his or her designated agent be responsible for the care and maintenance of a building or structure. This obligation may apply even though the property owner does not have possession and control.

What is interesting about control of the premises is that in May 1996, the Second District California Court of Appeal extended the duty to inspect and correct building or structure defects even further. In Lopez v. Superior Court, 45 Cal. App. 4th 705 (Cal. App. 1996), a non-possessory landowner moved for summary judgment based on a lack of notice and lack of possession of the demised property/structure. The court held that the landlord was not entitled to summary judgment since he had reserved the right to enter the premises at any time. A landlord owes a duty of care to a tenant to provide and maintain safe conditions on the leased premises. This duty also extends to the general public. The court went on to find the hazard was due to a common condition (produce on the floor of a market), and the reserved right of the landlord to inspect also fixed a duty to abate or stop reasonably foreseeable hazards or dangers on the floor.

You see? Control of the premises is a very important question in a California slip and fall case. The question will always come down to who had the better position to inspect for reasonable dangers that are easily seen or not so easily seen. It is the owner of the property number one, and then who had control of the premises? The above is the journey a California court would take in a slip and fall case.

Mark C. Blane is a San Diego Slip and Fall Attorney and the managing lawyer of the Law Offices of Mark C. Blane, a San Diego, California Premise Liability Law Firm devoted to representing families of injured persons of slip and fall or premise liability accidents. If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in San Diego County or Southern California due to the negligence of another, please order your FREE copy of Mr. Blane's book, The ULTIMATE California Slip & Fall Injury Legal Survival Guide, and don't forget about his eight (8) other publications that might fit your need. The books are extremely informative and full of helpful information, insights, and secrets that will help you protect your legal rights.  They normally sell for around $16.95; however, it is free to all California residents or those injured in a California accident!  Take advantage of free legal information to help you make an informed decision on your specific slip and fall injury case!