California renters insurance does more than just protect your property, whether you’re in Los Angeles, San Mateo, or Mountain View. It also protects you against liability for injuries to guests on the premises.
Whether it’s a trick or treater who falls on your front walk, or Aunt Fanny falls on the edge of your rug and breaks her hip, you’re potentially on the hook for that injury. How can you make sure that lawsuit doesn’t bankrupt you? How can you make sure that the medical bills get paid and don’t create a rift between you and the injured guest? California renters insurance from Effective Coverage.
How Is Negligence Established In California?
To claim negligence and fault on your part, the injured person must show three things. First, they must establish that you had a duty to use “due care” to prevent the injury or the hazardous condition that caused the injury. For example, before you have guests in your home, you have a duty to use due care to clear ice and snow from walkways.
Second, the injured party must establish that you breached this duty. That simply means that where you should have used due care, you did not. This could mean you shoveled just enough snow off your walk to expose the underlying sheet of ice, and knowingly didn’t take any action to remove the ice, resulting in a hazardous condition that you had a duty to mitigate or to prevent. A reasonable person would understand they have a duty to remove not only the snow, but also the far more dangerous ice beneath it, if they’re planning to have guests.
Your Breach Must Have Direcly And Proximately Caused The Injury
Finally, the injured person must establish that your breach of duty (see above) is the direct and proximate cause of the injury in question. This can be straightforward, if someone were to slip on the icy sidewalk from which snow had been cleared referenced above; Or this can be less than straightforward, where the injured person might have failed to take a duty of care of their own. Your liability may be somewhat limited or reduced if the injured person did not exercise reasonable care, such as not walking on a clearly icy sidewalk in high heels with a huge stack of Christmas presents in their arms blocking their view.
However, finding the injured party to be at fault or negligent is a rare occurrence, indeed. While in a rental situation, some or all of this duty of care may lie with the landlord, that’s generally determined by the lease. Does the lease lay out who is responsible for shoveling the walk, or is it silent on the matter? Since we’re speaking specifically about California renters insurance, we sought out an expert.
Barry Goldberg, a California injury lawyer, wrote that
“California courts generally attempt to determine who has the ‘right to control’ the premises where the accident occurs.”
What does that mean to you? Since it’s your apartment, and your walkway or your home that caused the injury, you generally are presumed to be negligent and liable. The right to control the premises is important to all of the above three elements of negligence. If you control the premises, you’re required to use reasonable care to provide a safe environment for your guests. Failure to do so can constitute negligence.
California Renters Insurance Can Protect You From Apartment Injury Claims
If you’re negligent, and that negligence caused injury to another person, you’re personally liable for their medical bills and potentially other expenses, as well. Those add up quickly. In order to protect yourself, make sure to secure a California renters insurance policy with enough liability to cover your assets. If you want to know how much liability is appropriate on renters insurance in California, we’ve got a primer on it available on our site.
The real answer, however, considering that California courts traditionally favor the plaintiff in a home personal injury suit, is to get as much liability as you possibly can on that policy. Effective Coverage offers $500,000 of liability on renters insurance in California, as well as umbrella liability policies for additional protection. The difference in cost between $100,000 and $500,000 of liability is minimal, generally just a few dollars a year.
In a state where the injured party is often favored, additional liability coverage brings two additional benefits. First, if the lawsuit is over an issue that would be a covered loss, the insurance company is obligated to defend you. That means that if you are sued over that injury, your renters insurance provides and pays for a lawyer and your defense costs.
Second, and less tangible but equally important, is the way your insurance could look to a jury. If you just have a bare minimum amount of liability, and that fact is admitted in open court, you could be looked on as less responsible and more likely to be negligent than someone with higher limits.
California renters insurance can be complicated, especially when evaluating what losses you need to be covered for.