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Liability for the Acts of Others

Generally speaking, California law does not require people to control the acts of others, or to warn people about the potential actions of third parties. As a general rule, the law makes each person liable for his or her own actions, and not for the actions of others.

However, California also recognizes many exceptions to this rule–situations where one person can be held legally liable for the actions of another. Examples include:

1. Where a “special relationship” exists between two (or more) people.

2. Where maintaining property in reasonably safe condition requires a land owner, landlord, or other person in possession or control of land to pay attention to the possibility of foreseeable third party dangers (for example, crimes).

3. Where a company or facility assumes responsibility for the care of disturbed, dangerous, or impaired people.

In these cases (and some others), the law may hold a person or entity legally liable for harm resulting from the acts of another, if the defendant failed to fulfill its duty to warn and/or to take reasonable steps to prevent the harm from occurring.

When determining whether to hold a defendant liable for the acts of another, courts may consider a variety of factors, including:

— Whether the defendant’s actions increased the likelihood of harm, or the degree of risk, to the injured party.

— Whether the plaintiff had a “dependent relationship” to the defendant. (If so, the defendant is more likely to be held liable.)

— Whether the defendant did anything to induce the plaintiff’s reliance.

The court may also consider other reasonably relevant facts and factors. If you believe that you were injured because someone failed to warn you of a legally relevant hazard, consult an experienced attorney promptly for an evaluation of your individual rights and potential claims.


Disclaimer: THIS ARTICLE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY, AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE OR CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE AUTHOR OR ROSS LAW AND ANY PERSON. Your rights and experiences may vary. Never use an online article (including this one) to evaluate your legal claims. Speak with an experienced lawyer promptly to obtain a personalized evaluation of your claims, possible damages, and options. You may lose or compromise your rights if you delay in consulting legal counsel. Most legal claims (and defenses) are complicated and fact-dependent. If you believe you have a claim against someone who injured you, a lawyer who represented you in a previous lawsuit, or any other type of legal claim, consult an experienced lawyer immediately for an evaluation of your personal rights and claims.

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