Slip and fall accidents have the potential to result in major injuries or even fatalities. If you have been injured in a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident due to someone else's negligence, it is important to remember that you have legal rights and protections under the law. You may be able to seek compensation for your injuries, damages and losses by filing a civil personal injury lawsuit.
An individual or entity can be held liable for a slip and fall accident in California when they knew or should have known about a hazardous condition on a property they own or have control over. Property owners, managers or other parties may also be held liable for a slip and fall accident when they fail to repair or provide adequate warning regarding a dangerous condition.
Key Points - Table of Contents
- What Leads to Slip and Fall Liability in California?
- Who is Liable for a Slip and Fall Accident in California?
- What Elements Need to Be Proven in a Slip and Fall Case?
- When is a Defendant Considered 'Negligent' in a Slip and Fall Accident?
- Damages in a California Slip and Fall Case
- Statute of Limitations for a California Slip and Fall Claim
- Get the Help You Need
What Leads to Slip and Fall Liability in California?
There can be a number of different reasons why a slip and fall accident might happen. The most common types of incidents that lead to slip and fall liability in Los Angeles, California include:
- Spills on the floor that could pose a slipping hazard
- Torn, damaged or loose carpeting
- Uneven flooring
- Broken stairs or hand rails
- Uncovered cables or wires
- Inadequate lighting
- Debris in stairways, aisles or other common areas
Who is Liable for a Slip and Fall Accident in California?
Property owners, managers and other parties have a duty of care under California law to keep their premises free of hazards that could cause slip and fall or trip and fall accidents. This duty of care applies to individuals or entities that own, lease, occupy or control property. In addition, insurance companies or corporations may also be held liable for damages, depending on the location of your accident and the circumstances of your case.
Often times, more than one than one party can be held liable. For example, if you suffered a slip and fall accident in a supermarket, the property owner, manager and a company that owns the supermarket franchise or chain can be held financially responsible for your injuries, damages and losses.
What Elements Need to Be Proven in a Slip and Fall Case?
Under California law, in order to recover damages in a slip and fall case, it is important to establish certain elements:
- That the defendant owned, rented out, occupied or controlled the property where the dangerous condition existed
- The defendant was negligent (careless) with regard to the use and/or maintenance of the property
- You, the plaintiff, were injured as a result of a slip and fall or trip and fall accident on the property
- The defendant's negligence was a substantial factor in causing your fall and resulting injuries
- You suffered monetary damages as a result of the incident
Learn more about the evidence you need for your slip and fall case.
When is a Defendant Considered 'Negligent' in a Slip and Fall Accident?
A defendant is considered negligent in the use and maintenance of their property when:
- A condition on the premises created an unreasonable risk of injury or harm
- The defendant knew or should have known about the dangerous condition on their property
- The defendant failed to fix the problem or failed to give proper warning about the hazardous condition
A good example of negligence is when a business such as a restaurant fails to post a "wet floor" sign when the floors have been just mopped and are slick, posing a dangerous situation for customers.
Damages in a California Slip and Fall Case
Plaintiffs in a slip and fall case are typically entitled to recover compensatory damages that result from the defendant's negligence including:
- Medical expenses relating to emergency care, hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation, medications, medical equipment, etc.
- Lost income and lost earning capacity
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering – the physical pain and emotional suffering as the result of the incident
- Loss of consortium
It is important to note that damages such as pain and suffering or loss of consortium are non-economic damages because it can be challenging to assign a dollar amount to them. On the other hand, economic damages such as lost wages and medical expenses are easier to quantify by using documents such as pay stubs and hospital bills. In some cases, which are rare, plaintiffs may also receive punitive damages when the defendant's behavior resulted in catastrophic injuries or wrongful death.
Statute of Limitations for a California Slip and Fall Claim
Under California law, the statute of limitations or deadline to file a slip and fall personal injury lawsuit is typically two years from the date of the incident. However, in some cases, the deadline may be tolled or suspended, for example, when a plaintiff is a child under 18.
If your lawsuit is against a governmental entity, the statute of limitations for such a claim is six months (180 days) after the incident. If the governmental agency denies your claim, you have another six months to file your personal injury lawsuit. An experienced Los Angeles slip and fall lawyer can help you better understand deadlines in California, which could vary depending on the facts and circumstances of your case.
Get the Help You Need
If you or someone you know suffered injuries in a slip and fall accident on someone else's property, the experienced Los Angeles premises liability attorneys at the Vaziri Law Group, APC can help you better understand your legal rights and options. We will help you obtain and compile crucial evidence that can help substantially increase your chances of securing maximum compensation for your losses. Call us to schedule a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.