Slip and Fall
If you are injured as the result of a slip and fall incident you may be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries, both to pay medical bills and to compensate you for any other expenditures caused by the slip and fall incident, or for any pain, suffering and emotional distress you may have or will experience.
“Slip and fall" is a term used for a personal injury case in which a person slips or trips and falls, and is injured on someone else's property. These cases usually fall under the broader category of cases known as "premises liability" claims, and the even broader category of Personal Injury actions, because slip and fall accidents usually occur on property (or "premises") owned or maintained by someone else and the owner or possessor of the property may be held legally responsible. They are personal injury actions because the person who slipped and fell may suffer an injury to their person.
Dangerous conditions such as torn carpeting, changes in flooring, poor lighting, narrow stairs, or a wet or dirty floor can cause someone to slip and hurt him or herself inside a building. Other instances of slip and fall incidents can occur when people trip on broken or cracked public sidewalks or trip and fall on stairs or escalators. In addition, a slip and fall case might arise when someone slips and falls because of rain, ice, snow or a hidden hazard, such as a pothole in the ground.
Slip and Fall accidents, the science that tries to prevent them and the scientific theories we use to prove liability after they occur are all very advanced and complex. For example, there are four different types of “Slip and Fall” incidents. There is the “Trip and Fall”, the “Stump and Fall”, the “Step and Fall” and the good old fashioned “Slip and Fall". Herein we will term all types of these incidents as a 'slip and fall'. In addition, this area of legal liability not only concerns several types of “falls” but also involves the nature of floor surfaces, the effects of various types of floor cleansers, mops and other cleaning devices used in cleaning floors, the effect of various waxes used, the age of the floor, the temperature at the time of any fall and so forth.
Proving Fault in Slip and Fall Cases
When an incident occurs causing injury to a
person on property owned or legally occupied or in possession of
another, the owner or occupier/possessor of the property may be
liable (legally responsible) if it can be proved that their
negligence or recklessness led to the injury. If you have been
injured through a slip and fall incident at someone else's home
or business which you believe may be a result of the negligence
or recklessness of another person, you may be able to file a
claim to recover your out of pocket costs for your medical
bills, any lost earnings due to injury or for other pain,
suffering, disfigurement, emotional distress or permanent
physical disability you have experienced.
There is no precise way to determine when someone else is legally responsible for your injuries if you slip and fall. Each case turns on whether the property owner acted reasonably careful so that slipping or tripping was not likely to happen, and whether you were careless in not seeing or avoiding the condition that caused your fall. Here are some general rules to help you decide whether someone else was at fault for your slip and fall injury.
In most cases, a person injured in a slip and fall on someone else's property must prove that the cause of the accident was a "dangerous condition", and that the owner or possessor of the property knew, or should have known, of the dangerous condition and failed to do anything about it such as correct or remove the danger or warn against it. A dangerous condition must present an unreasonable risk to a person on the property, and it must have been a condition that the injured party should not have anticipated under the circumstances. This latter requirement implies that people must be aware of, and avoid, obvious dangers.
In order to establish that a property owner or possessor knew of a dangerous condition, at least one of the following factors must be shown:
• the owner/possessor created the condition;
• the owner/possessor knew the condition existed and negligently failed to correct or remove it, or alert visitors to the condition;
• the condition existed for such a length of time that the owner/possessor should have discovered and corrected it prior to the slip and fall incident in question; or
• the unsafe condition was permanent and the owner/possessor failed to discover and correct it.
Moreover, for a property owner or possessor to be held liable, it must have been foreseeable that his negligence would create the danger at issue. For instance, if a can of paint falls to the ground and spills into an aisle in a hardware store and, one day later, the store has not noticed or cleaned up the spill, and someone slips in the paint and is injured, one might argue it was foreseeable that the store's negligence in failing to inspect its aisles and keep it floors clean of spills would result in someone slipping and injuring himself on a spilled substance.
Occasionally, we may be able to prove that a property owner is responsible for your slip and fall incident by showing that they violated a relevant statute. This is called Negligence Per Se. For example, building codes often dictate when and where handrails and other similar features must be installed. If you fall and are injured on a stairway that lacked appropriate handrails, and the lack of the handrail caused your fall and injury, you may have a valid claim against the building owner based on his or her building code violation.
As we have shown, in order to recover for a slip and fall injury sustained on another's property, there must be a responsible party whose negligence caused the injury. This sounds obvious, but many people do not realize that some injuries are simply accidents caused by their own carelessness or by something that is nobody's fault. For instance, if someone falls simply because he was not looking where he was walking he cannot recover against the property owner if the owner was in no way at fault, no matter how serious the injury. However, if you as an injured person are only partially at fault for your own injury, we still may be able to recover from the property owner but the dollar amount of your recovery might be reduced by the amount of your own fault. This is because of the doctrine called the 'Comparative Fault/Negligence Rule'.
If you are injured on commercial property in a slip and fall, we may be able to hold the property owner-possessor liable for your injuries and other damages. To hold this owner legally responsible for the injuries you suffered from slipping or tripping and falling on their property, we must show that the owner/possessor of a store, restaurant, or other business (or an employee of the business) satisfied the following elements:
• The owner/possessor either, (i) must have caused the spill, worn or torn spot, or other slippery or dangerous surface or item, to be underfoot; (ii) must have known of the dangerous surface but did nothing about it; or (iii) should have known of the dangerous surface because a "reasonable" person taking care of the property would have discovered and removed or repaired it.
• Repairing the condition would not have been unreasonably expensive or difficult
• A serious injury was the foreseeable consequence of not fixing the condition; and
• The landlord's failure to take reasonable steps to avoid an accident caused the tenant's slip and fall injury.
The third situation or "(iii)" above is the most common, but is also less clear-cut than the first two because of the phrase "should have known." Liability in these cases is decided by common sense. The law determines whether the owner or occupier of property was careful by deciding if the steps the owner or occupier took to keep the property safe were reasonable under the circumstances.
In slip and fall cases on commercial property, there are often a number of people or entities that may be held responsible for someone's injuries. For instance, if a business rents space from a property owner, both the property owner and the tenant (the business) may be named as defendants by someone injured on the property. In that case, the tenant is known as a possessor of the property, and has a duty to use reasonable care to prevent injury to those on the premises under its control. A potentially liable "possessor" might also be a party who manages or maintains the property, such as a management company.
If you are a visitor or a tenant to a residential property and you are injured in a slip and fall, you may be able to hold the property owner/possessor, or if a tenant your landlord, liable for your injuries and other damages. To hold a property owner/possessor or landlord responsible for an injury on residential property, an injured visitor or tenant must show the following elements:
• The owner/possessor or landlord had control over the condition that caused the slip and fall and as a consequence;
• Repairing the condition would not have been unreasonably expensive or difficult;
• A serious injury was the foreseeable consequence of not fixing the condition; and,
• The landlord's failure to take reasonable steps to avoid an accident caused the tenant's slip and fall injury.
In summary, liability for a slip and fall injury on residential property is very similar to that for a slip and fall injury on commercial property. Whether it is on residential or commercial property, if a person slips and falls due to a dangerous condition known to the property owner/possessor and is foreseeably injured because of the slip and fall, the property owner/possessor is most likely liable and most times he or she must compensate the injured party for their damages.
When a slip and fall injury occurs on property owned by a local, state, or federal government entity, special rules will apply. Specifically, there are very stringent notice requirements and broad immunity provisions that sometimes shield government entities from liability for injuries that occur on their property.
Contact the Lee Law Group if you are injured by a slip and fall on government property so we can walk you through the maze of government laws and regulations and advise you whether or not you have a claim.
You May Be Eligible to Receive Damages
You may be able to recover economic and non-economic damages. Generally speaking, economic damages are those to replace money you have lost through expenditures or lost earnings. Examples of these damages include, but are not limited to, loss of earnings and future earning potential. In addition, if there is an injury or death, economic damages include medical expenses to be repaid to your healthcare insurance company, Medicare, Medi-Cal or any other medical treatment or care provider engaged on your behalf. Economic damages also include those for expenses for treatment you are expected to need in the future, along with out-of-pocket payments for medical devices, prescriptions, transportation, household assistance, and any other such expenses you may experience. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. Non-economic damages are serious losses that are more difficult to assign a dollar value, including pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish, and loss of quality of life.
What if I Slip and Fall, What Do I Do Next?
If you are injured due to a slip and fall incident contact the Lee Law Group and we will assist you throughout the entire ordeal, most times at no costs to you unless and until you recover your loss. It is important to contact us, or some other attorney, as soon as possible because if you eventually have to file a lawsuit, legally you must file it within a specified period of time. This period of time, known as the ‘statute of limitations’, could bar your case if you do not act in time.
Once you contact the Lee Law Group, we will investigate to ensure liability, that is, to confirm that someone else was responsible for your injury and other damages. Often times we will be able to call on experts, for example, accident reconstruction experts or experts in animated reconstruction to provide theoretic or visual replays of the incident. In addition, in slip and falls we obtain the assistance of experts in biomechanics and 'kinseology' (which is the study of energy as applied to motion) along with experts in COF (the co-efficient of friction) to study the slipperiness of the surface you slipped and fell upon to see if it was too slippery and threby was the cause of your injury causing incident. These experts and scientists work together to provide a professional opinion concerning causation and theories on the reasons for your slip and fall and the nature and extent of your injuries.
In addition, if you are injured, we will work closely with your medical care providers to ensure you obtain the best possible care for your injuries. If you do not have a physician, or other medical care provider, the Lee Law Group will engage a respected care provider, whether you need a regular physician, physician specialists, chiropractor, physical therapist, or all of the above, on your behalf with no payment required until your case is resolved. These medical care providers will provide a professional opinion concerning the extent of your injuries and your prognosis.
Then, once we have a firm idea of the costs of your medical treatment and of the fair compensation for all your damages, we will write a settlement demand letter to the premises (property) owner's insurance company for compensation to cover your damages and injuries. Usually negotiations are required at this point and the Lee Law Group will conduct your negotiations with the insurance company until we have a settlement agreement that you can accept because final approval of any potential settlement rests with you, not the attorneys. Many cases are settled in this way. However, if the insurance company refuses to offer a settlement that you can accept, we will file a lawsuit to obtain your compensation and relief, still at not costs to you unless and until you recover compensation.
What Happens if I File a Lawsuit For Negligence?
If the Lee Law Group is forced to file a lawsuit to obtain your just compensation we will litigate your case from start to finish explaining the process to you every step of the way. We will instruct you on what to do and when to do it, making the process as simple as possible. A great majority of cases are settled after filing a lawsuit without having to actually conduct a trial. However, if a trial is necessary we at the Lee Law Group are experienced in trial work and will energetically try your case still at no costs to you unless and until you are compensated for your injuries.
If you suffer a Slip and Fall injury, contact the Lee Law Group so we can fight for you.
All Other Injuries
There are numerous other actions that people do to injure or harm the property of others under California law. These “civil wrongs” or “Torts” as they are officially named, are too numerous to list properly on any website. Please know that we at the Lee Law Group have endeavored to list those we believe are the most commonly litigated torts that produce the highest amount and number of monetary awards and settlements for you, our friends and potential clients.
Please also know that we at the Lee Law Group are ready, willing, and able to provide the best personal injury representation for any civil “wrong” or “Tort”, or anything else that may cause your injury or property damage in California.
Rest assured if you need representation to obtain compensation and redress wrongs for tortious act committed against you, we can provide that representation.
Contact the Lee Law Group to defend you no matter what the charge. We will fight for you.