Slip and falls happen every day when a dangerous condition on someone’s property (public or private) exists, and many cause serious injuries or sometimes even death, giving rise to a wrongful death claim. Some fall injuries — especially those that involve broken bones, sprains, hip fractures, or trauma to the back, head, or knees — require emergency medical care, extensive rehabilitation, and sometimes ongoing care.
If you suffered a serious injury in a slip and fall accident, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation to cover your medical treatment, lost wages, and other damages. Call a slip and fall lawyer in Los Angeles at the Law Office of Joshua Cohen Slatkin today to schedule a free case review: 310-923-7839.
Who is liable for my injuries from a slip and fall accident?
Stores, restaurants, apartment complexes, and other businesses have a duty to keep customers and other visitors safe while they are on the property. This includes:
- Keeping floors clean
- Drying spills
- Removing tripping hazards
- Clearly marking hazards prior to correcting them
- Fixing or remedying hazards in a reasonable amount of time
When a business fails to keep its premises reasonably safe and free of hazards (is negligent) and a visitor suffers injuries (negligence causes injuries), the property owner may be liable for the resulting medical bills and other losses (damages).
Further, to prove the property owner is or may be responsible, you have to prove a dangerous condition existed for at least a sufficient time to support a finding that the defendant had constructive notice (i.e., should have known) of the hazardous condition. CACI 1003, CACI 1001 Ortega v. Kmart Corporation (2001) 26 Cal. 4th 1200.
A claimant may demonstrate the storekeeper had constructive notice of the dangerous condition if they can show that the site had not been inspected within a reasonable period of time so that a person exercising due care would have discovered and corrected the hazard. The plaintiff does not need to show actual knowledge if the evidence suggests the dangerous condition was present for a sufficient period of time to charge the owner with constructive knowledge of its existence. Of course, if you can prove the person actually knew of the dangerous condition, that can establish their responsibility for your injuries, but demonstrating actual knowledge is rare and not necessary under the law..
All these elements are necessary to successfully prove liability and recover compensation in a slip and fall claim – duty of care, negligence, causation, and damages. A Los Angeles slip and fall lawyer at the Law Office of Joshua Cohen Slatkin will evaluate your case, identify liable parties, gather the evidence to support your claim, and negotiate a fair settlement to cover the damages you suffered.
What if the slip and fall happened at a friend’s house?
Homeowners and tenants also have a responsibility to keep their homes reasonably safe for visitors. If you slipped and fell at your friend’s house, he or she might be liable for your injuries.
But do not worry; even if your friend is liable, he or she will likely not be the one paying for your damages. Instead, his or her homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy may cover your injuries. Your friend likely will not face thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs for your damages.
Is a property owner always liable for injuries on the property?
As noted previously, any slip and fall and/or negligence claims that arise out of a dangerous condition on public property and cause injuries (like a fire) require proof that the defendant owed the claimant a duty of care, was negligent in carrying out that duty, caused the claimant’s injuries, and the claimant suffered damages. Accidents that do not meet these criteria may not warrant a claim.
Here are a few examples of accidents that may not warrant a slip and fall claim:
- If the store was unable to clean up a spill in a reasonable amount of time before the claimant’s injuries (e.g., claimant slipped five seconds after another customer spilled a jar of water), the store may not be liable.
- If the claimant slipped and fell but did not suffer any injuries or damages, the defendant may not be liable.
- If the condition that caused injury was so obvious (known as the “open and obvious” doctrine”) then the property owner may not be responsible. See California Civil Jury Instruction “CACI”1004.
- If the property owner provided an adequate warning of the dangerous condition, then the property owner also may not be liable. See CACI 1003.
These are usually common defenses property owners use to defend against premises liability (that is, slip and fall and dangerous condition cases) and an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the legal process to avoid falling victim to these common defenses.
Will my visitor status at the time of the accident affect my claim?
The defendant’s duty of care to the claimant is a common point of contention in slip and fall cases. This usually comes down to the claimant’s visitor status at the time of the accident. In California, visitors to a property fall into one of three categories:
- Invitees: A visitor who has the property owner’s express or implied invitation to be on the property. For example, customers at a store. Property owners have a high duty of care to invitees.
- Licensees: A visitor who enters the property with the property owner’s express or implied permission for the visitor’s own benefit. For example, guests at a friend’s home. Property owners also owe licensees a duty of care.
- Trespassers: A visitor with neither express nor implied permission to be on the property. Property owners generally do not owe trespassers a duty of care if they are unaware of them. Property owners may owe trespassers they are aware of a slight duty of care, such as to warn of a dangerous condition like an electric fence.
Duty of care, negligence, causation, and damages are all points of contention in slip and fall cases. Many claimants fall short of proving their case, however, because they lack sufficient evidence.
How can I prove the owner was liable for my slip and fall?
Proving liability requires evidence that establishes the important elements of your claim. When we build your slip and fall case, we may rely on evidence such as:
- Your medical records
- Eyewitness testimony
- Surveillance video of the incident
- Pictures of the scene
- Cleaning frequency sheets (also known as “sweep sheets”), which indicate the times that a certain area was cleaned
- Testimony from expert witnesses
- Any company policy handbooks, which provide policies and procedures regarding cleaning frequency and maintenance of the property
In some cases, the insurance company may claim you contributed to your own injuries. For example, the insurance company may argue you were distracted (e.g., looking at your phone); behaving recklessly (roughhousing or running); or ignored warning signs. These allegations of comparative negligence are common in slip and fall cases.
But we have seen every trick in the book and we know how to defend against them with convincing evidence collection and case-building. Further, California is a pure comparative fault state, so even if you are 90% at fault and the property owner is 10% at fault, you can still bring a claim.
What is my case worth?
Because every injury and every case is different, there is no set value for a slip and fall claim. The value of your case depends on:
- The severity of your injuries and cost of medical treatment
- How your injuries affect your ability to work
- Any temporary or permanent disability
- Your physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Any other physical, emotional, or financial effects of the accident
Accurate case valuation is essential to any personal injury case. Unfortunately, slip and fall claimants are often met with allegations of exaggerating their injuries. We examine your medical records, pay stubs, and photos of your injuries to create a solid record of your injuries and medical care. We may even work with expert witnesses (medical experts, economic experts, etc.) to establish your prognosis and ability to work now and in the future.
Set Up Your Consultation with the Law Office of Joshua Cohen Slatkin
We help victims of slips and falls in and around Los Angeles fight for the compensation they deserve. We can help you navigate the entire claims process, reducing stress and allowing you to focus on your health and recovery.
Call us today at 310-923-7839 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.