People slip and fall every day. When the fall is caused by a dangerous condition on someone’s property and serious injuries result, the property owner can be held responsible. Some fall injuries—especially those involving 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 have suffered this type of injury, you are the victim, and you should not have to pay the costs for someone else’s negligence.
Business Owners Have a Duty to Keep You Safe
Property owners of stores, restaurants, apartment complexes, and other businesses have a duty to maintain their premises in a safe condition while customers and other visitors are on the property. This includes:
- Keeping floors clean
- Drying spills promptly
- Removing tripping hazards
- Clearly warning and identifying hazards prior to eliminating the hazards, so people are aware of the potential dangers
- Fixing or remedying hazards in a reasonable amount of time
When a business fails to keep its premises reasonably safe and free of hazards, then the business owner may be negligent and responsible for your injuries. If the visitor suffers injuries (causation), the property owner may be responsible for the resulting medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses (damages).
Establishing Notice That the Property Owner Knew of the Dangerous Condition
To establish that the property owner was negligent and caused your injuries, you have to prove that they either actually knew of the dangerous condition and failed to remedy it (known as actual notice), or that the dangerous condition existed for a sufficient amount of time that he or she should have known about it and failed to eliminate the dangerous condition which is known as constructive notice.
All these elements are necessary to successfully prove liability and recover compensation in a premises liability claim: duty of care, negligence, causation and damages.
Attorney Joshua Cohen Slatkin can evaluate your case, identify responsible parties, gather the evidence to support your claim, and negotiate a fair settlement to compensate you for the damages you suffered.
Private Home Owners Have Insurance to Pay for Your Injuries
Homeowners and tenants also have a responsibility to keep their homes reasonably safe for visitors. If you slipped and fell in a private home, the owner or renter might be liable for your injuries.
This is what homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies are used for. The individual does not pay out of his or her own pocket, but their insurance can cover the costs of your injuries.
We Anticipate Defenses to Premises Liability Claims
Any slip and fall and/or negligence claim that arises out of a dangerous condition on public or private property and causes injuries must be established by showing that the defendant owed the claimant a duty of care, was negligent in carrying out that duty, caused the claimant’s injuries, and that the claimant suffered damages.
Not every premises liability case meets these conditions. Here are a few examples of accidents that may not result in a successful premises liability claim:
- Lack of notice. The store was unable to clean up a spill in a reasonable amount of time before the claimant’s injuries. For example, the claimant slipped five seconds after another customer spilled water and therefore the store did not have actual or constructive notice.
- The claimant slipped and fell but did not suffer any injuries or damages.
- The condition that caused the injury was obvious and should have been seen by the claimant. (This is known as the “open and obvious” doctrine.)
- The property owner provided an adequate warning of the dangerous condition.
These are the most common defenses property owners use to defend against a premises liability claim. This is when an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the legal process to avoid falling victim to these common defenses and losing your case.
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: This term refers to a visitor who has the property owner’s express or implied invitation to be on the property. For example, customers at a store fall into the category of invitees. Property owners have a high duty of care to invitees.
- Licensees: Licensees are persons who enter the property with the property owner’s express or implied permission for the visitor’s own benefit, such as guests invited to 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 is a trespasser. Property owners may owe trespassers they are aware of a slight duty of care, such as a warning of a dangerous condition like an electric fence. Property owners generally do not owe trespassers a duty of care if they are unaware of the dangers.
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.
JCS Law Firm Is Known for Evidence Collection and Case-Building
Proving liability requires evidence that establishes the important elements of your claim. When we build your premises liability case, we may rely on evidence such as:
- 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 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 that 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.
JCS Law Firm have seen every defense trick in the book, and we know how to defend against them with convincing evidence collection and case-building. Fortunately, 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.
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The Value of a California Premises Liability Claim Is Higher Than You Think
Because every injury and every case is different, there is no set value for a premises liability claim, such as a slip and fall. The value of your case depends on a number of variables, such as:
- The severity of your injuries and the 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, personal injury plaintiffs are often met with false claims 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, liability experts) to establish your prognosis and ability to work now and in the future. This is why you need a lawyer.