DEVASTATING CONSEQUENCES OF SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENTS
Slip and fall accidents are the single most frequent causes of emergency room visits in California and across the United States, accounting for over 8 million ER visits annually. From a medical and legal standpoint, “slip and fall” is a term that encompasses accidents that include slips, trips, or falls. These include accidents of this type that occur at locations owned, managed, or controlled by another party. Slip and fall accidents that occur at someone else’s property are governed by a legal doctrine known as premises liability.
These types of accidents can result in truly devastating, debilitating, and life altering injuries. The serious consequences of accidents thar result in a fall warrant to support and assistance of a skilled, experienced, and tenacious fall injury law firm.
WHAT IS MEANT BY PREMISES LIABILITY
Since slip and fall claims occur on the property or premises owned or leased by someone else. The key element to determine whether an owner, renter, or other occupier of property is responsible for injuries sustained at the premises is control. Under the doctrine of premises liability, a party must have control over an aspect of a property that underpinned an accident and injury.
A number of different parties can be deemed to have control over a particular property at the time of an accident that results in a slip and fall claim. Examples of who might be responsible for a fall accident at a property include the property owner, the tenant (if the premises are rented), or some other individual or entity that occupies and has control over the premises.
WHEN A PROPERTY OWNER IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PERSONAL INJURIES
A property owner likely would be considered a party responsible for injuries and damages to a person injured in a fall at building if there is a defect in the structure itself. The property owner would need to have knowledge of the defect and done nothing to rectify the problem in a timely manner.
A property owner might content that there he or she did not know of the property defect that caused a person to fall and suffer injuries. Lack of knowledge may not be a defense in such a situation. If a demonstration that the owner of a property reasonably should have known of the hazard at the premises, the premises owner will not be excused for lacking actual knowledge.
It is also important to understand that there are fall claim situations in which the premises owner will not be considered responsible for personal injuries, damages, and other loses. A common type of fall lawsuit illustrates a scenario when an owner will not be included as a responsible party.
One of the more commonplace types of fall cases in a business occurs because a customer steps on something spilled on the floor and slips. In a situation involving a grocery story where milk has spilled in an aisle, store personnel have a legal responsibility to cleanup the mess in a reasonably timely manner.
Oftentimes, a grocery store rents its market space from a building owner. In such a situation, the building owner would not be held responsible for the liquid on the floor. The owner would not have any reasonable way of knowing that the spill occurred. Moreover, this is an aspect of the store’s operations and use of the premises that the landlord or owner would have absolutely no control over.
Lack of control over the premises translates into the inability of an injured person to make a claim against the landlord or owner. However, as is discussed in a moment, an injured person is in a position after this and similar types of accidents to make a claim against the operator of a business who may be in the position of a tenant.
As an aside, people from all walks of life understandably equate these types of accidents with something that happens at a business or some other public location. The fact is that a California case involving an accident of this nature can also be pursued if the incident happened in a private home.
WHEN A TENANT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PERSONAL INJURIES
A common practice is for a business to rent its space from the owner of a building. In other words, a specific business does not own the premises from which it operates. Examples of this type of arrangement include grocery stores, other types of retail outlets, professional offices, and restaurants.
In many if not most cases involving a slip and fall incident, the operator of the business at which the accident and injury occurs, the business itself is likely to be considered a responsible party. In other words, a fall lawsuit can be brought against the business.
An example of when a business would bear responsibility for fall injuries was provided a moment ago. That scenario involved a grocery store and spilled milk in an aisle that was not cleaned up in a reasonably timely manner. (What constitutes reasonable time is discussed in a moment.)
As is the case with the owner of the property, there can be instances in which the operator of a business will not be considered responsible for an accident arising from something a building owner has the legal obligation to rectify. The example provided previously was a defect to the building itself. Generally speaking, if such a defect caused an accident, the owner of the building would be the individual or entity responsible for an accident caused by that issue.
There can be exceptions to this rather broad general rule, however. If the situation involves a defect to the property that the owner did not have actual knowledge existed, the tenant might be drawn into a fall injury lawsuit. If the landlord or owner reasonably could not have known of the defect to the building absent being notified by the tenant about the problem, the business owner or renter might be brought into the claim as well.
COMMONPLACE INJURIES FROM SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENTS
According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NSFI), slip and fall injuries can be severe and life-threatening. Common slip and fall injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Back and neck injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Hip fractures
- Broken pelvic bones
- Wrist, arm, and ankle injuries
- Soft tissue damage
In considering the most commonplace injuries sustained by fall victims, some have consequences that are virtually incomprehensible. Traumatic brain injuries sustained by fall victims can completely alter a person’s life. In such a situation, serious injuries of impacting the brain can result in permanent disability. This can preclude an accident victim from maintaining gainful employment to even enjoying the basic pleasantries of day-to-day living. The same holds true for other frequently occurring injuries experienced in California and across the country by fall victims.
COMMON CAUSES OF SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENTS
Hazardous conditions existing on the premises typically are the underlying cause of slip and fall accidents and resulting injuries. A commonly used example of a hazardous condition that precipitated this type of accident is a liquid spilled on the floor of a grocery market or some other type of business.
When filing a personal injury claim in premises liability, a dangerous condition has to be identified as a direct or contributing cause of an accident of this nature and resulting injuries. Examples of dangerous conditions that lead to slip and fall injuries include:
- Missing or uneven railings in stairwells or on balconies
- Liquids, food, or grease on floors
- Poor lighting
- Objects of debris on flows
- Snow or ice
- Flooring defects or damage
There is one factor all of these underlying causes have in common. They nearly always occur because another party was negligent in some manner.
In California, four elements must be demonstrated in order to make a negligence claim. A fall lawyer can explain these elements to you in greater detail. A brief overview of these components of a California personal injury claim is helpful.
First, in order to make a claim for injuries stemming from a fall accident, you need to be able to demonstrate that the other party has what is known as a legal duty to you. The owner of a grocery store has a legal duty to keep the floor reasonable clear of any hazards (like some type of spilled liquid). A building owner has a legal duty to address a structural hazard like exposed nails or a broken sidewalk.
Second, in order to pursue a personal injury claim successfully, you have to demonstrate that a legal duty owed to you was breached by the other party. A prime example was discussed previously and involves a grocery story owner not cleaning up a spill in an aisle in a reasonably timely manner.
Third, once you demonstrate the presence of the first two elements, you then need to show that the breach of the legal duty resulted in your injuries. For example, the failure to cleanup up a liquid spill in a timely manner resulted in you stepping on the mess, slipping, falling, and sustaining injuries.
Fourth and finally, you need to sustain actual injuries in the fall. They cannot be injuries or damages which you think might happen at some later point in time because of the fall.
WORKPLACE SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENTS
If you get injured while at your workplace, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. The workers’ compensation system in California is a “no-fault” system. What this means is that when you suffer a slip and fall accident while at work, you may be able to recover damages notwithstanding who was at fault for the accident.
When you file a workers’ compensation claim, you have to prove that the injury occurred during the scope of undertaking your job, within the course of your employment.
Your employer may attempt to make it sound like something easy and routine, that it is all just a matter of filling out some forms and waiting for payment. The fact is the workers compensation process is complex.
In the grand scheme of things, every attempt will likely be made to limit the exposure of your employer to reduce the amount of money that will be paid to you for your injuries. Due to the complexities of the California worker’s compensation process, a typical employee in your shoes may make understandable and yet unfortunate missteps in pursuing a claim.
Underscoring these challenges, you cannot approach a worker’s compensation claim in the same manner as you might an insurance claim associated with a routine visit to the office of your primary care physician. Rather, when you file a worker’s compensation claim for a workplace injury you initiate a complicated legal process with the odds of success somewhat stacked against you at the beginning and if you go it alone.
You best protect your important legal interests following a workplace injury by retaining the services of a skilled, experienced California worker’s compensation attorney. A qualified, knowledgeable California worker’s compensation lawyer from our firm understands how to maneuver through the process of pursuing a claim in a manner that works to optimize your benefits.
PURSUING A CALIFORNIA SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENT INJURY CLAIM
The California Civil Jury Instruction 1000 identifies the four elements to prove in a premises liability claim that we discussed a moment ago:
- Defendant controlled the premises and had a duty of care
- Defendant was negligent in the use or care of the property
- Plaintiff was injured as the result of that negligence
- Negligence caused injuries sustained by plaintiff
Negligence is the key element that has to be proved in a slip and fall claim. According to California Civil Jury Instructions 1003, negligence in the use or maintenance of a property can be proved by showing that:
- Condition at property created an unreasonable risk of harm
- Defendant knew or through the exercise of reasonable care would have known of the risk
- Defendant failed to address the risk in an appropriate and timely manner
EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT A CALIFORNIA PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM
Proving that another party is at fault for an accident that resulted in injuries can be a challenging endeavor. Prevailing on a premises liability claim requires the presentation of material evidence that supports an allegation of negligence on the part of a party that controls a particular property.
Examples of evidence to support this type of injury claim include:
- Medical records
- Photos and videos
- Expert witness testimony
- Statements from accident witnesses
- Your testimony or sworn statement
The challenges associated with acquiring evidence to support a claim for compensation following an accident highlights the need to retain the services of a capable lawyer, like a member of the legal team at Eldessouky Law.
COMPARATIVE NEGLIGENCE IN A CALIFORNIA ACCIDENT INJURY CASE
Your own actions may contribute to an accident in some instances. California law takes this into account. The fact that you may have somehow contributed to the incident that gave rise to injuries you have sustained does not mean you are not entitled to compensation.
California is what is known as a comparative negligence state. This means that you may still be able to claim financial compensation for your injuries even if you also contributed to the incident or accident.
Fault is allocated between you and the other party and parties. For example, if you’re found to be 30 percent responsible for an accident, compensation awarded to you in a slip and fall case is reduced by that percentage. For example, if a injured person in California receives a jury verdict for $200,000 after a trial, if that individual is deemed 30 percent at fault, the actual amount of compensation will be $140,000.
COMPENSATION FOR INJURIES AND LOSSES IN A SLIP AND FALL CASE
Compensation potentially available in a claim depends upon the specific facts and circumstances of an accident and the nature and extent of injuries sustained. With that noted, examples of losses for which compensation is sought after a slip, fall accident include:
- Medical bills and expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Other losses specific to your case
In some cases, a California personal injury lawyer is able to seek what are known as punitive damages or exemplary damages on behalf of an injured client. Punitive damages represent additional compensation awarded in certain situations in which a party’s action or inaction in causing an accident that resulted in injury is deemed to be particularly reckless or egregious.
Punitive damages are awarded by a jury in a trial. There are some limitations to the amount of money that an injured individual is able to receive in the way of punitive damages.
Making the case for punitive damages – for extra compensation – in your case underscores the need for an experienced California slip and fall injury lawyer. Arguing that punitive damages or exemplary damages as warranted in a case truly is something that requires the tenacity and experience of a seasoned California personal injury lawyer, like a member of the legal team at Eldessouky Law.
CALIFORNIA PERSONAL INJURY STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
The California slip and fall accident statute of limitations puts a limit on when you may be able to file a slip and fall lawsuit. In California, the Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1 the time period for filing a lawsuit is two years from the date of your injury. Our fall lawyers can answer any questions you may have about the timing of filing a lawsuit after a personal injury accident in California.
However, if you got injured in a public premises and the negligent party is the government, you have to file what is known as an administrative claim within six months of the date of the injury. The government agency or body will then have to respond within 45 days.
The California Code of Civil Procedure provides exceptions where the statute of limitations can be “tolled” (paused). These exceptions cover circumstances that include:
- The victim becomes physically incapacitated and couldn’t file a claim before the statute of limitations runs out
- The victim becomes mentally incapacitated and was, as a result, prevented them from filing a claim
- The injuries did not become apparent until after the expiration of the statute of limitations had expired
Accidents involving slips, falls, and injuries in Los Angeles, California are common occurrences that can result in serious injuries. At Eldessouky Law, our Los Angeles County premises liability attorney takes exception to owners and operators who deny negligence when our clients are hurt in their establishments or on their property, and work tirelessly to deliver financial results for the injured.
With millions of dollars recovered for our clients over the past decade, our fall lawyers provide exceptional representation for our California residents so they can focus on their recovery – not their medical bills or lost wages.
YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS AFTER A LOS ANGELES INJURY ACCIDENT
Getting hurt in an accident in Los Angeles requires quick legal action. Contact an experienced Los Angeles slip and fall attorney at Eldessouky Law today at (714) 409-8991. We can arrange a confidential initial consultation at our offices or virtually online, depending on your circumstances and desires. There is no cost for an initial consultation for a slip and fall lawyer from our firm.
Eldessouky Law uses what is known as a contingency fee agreement in a slip and fall suit or claim. What this means is that you pay no attorney fee unless we win your case for you. You can obtain more information about all aspects of your case, including attorney fees, during an initial consultation with an attorney from our firm.