Slip and Fall
“Slip and Fall” as it pertains to personal injury cases are when a person slips and falls and is then injured on another person’s property. Slip and fall accidents are reported as the most common cause of many injuries, including traumatic brain injuries. They remain a common and constant threat. Certain individuals, such as the elderly, can be particularly at risk for the adverse effects of a slip and fall accident.
Slip and fall incidents typically happen on a property owned by someone else and said property owner can be held liable. Under these circumstances, the slip and fall accident would be both a premises liability case and personal injury case.Contributing Factors in Slip And Fall Cases
Many times, slip and fall accidents happen in hazardous conditions, such as:
- Insufficient lighting
- Uneven surfaces
- Frayed carpeting
- Damaged staircases or railings
- Wet floors
- Cracked surfaces
- Icy surfaces
Whatever the scenario may be, if the victim of a slip and fall sustained an injury, the property owner may owe for damages.Determining Liability in Slip and Fall Cases
For slip and fall cases, these are often part of a premises liability and often the property owner will be named. However, it is not always limited to the owner. Some other liable parties can be: a leasing agent, the tenants, the property manager or the owner of a store or restaurant.
Part of determining liability will also mean showing negligence that the property owner or occupant should have reasonably known a condition was hazardous and failed to act. Typically, a person injured in a slip and fall case, has to show that the cause of the accident met the criteria for a "dangerous condition." A dangerous condition must present an unreasonable hazard to another person visiting or living on the property, and that with proper care, the accident could have been avoided. For example, if tenants were complaining about a wobbly handrail and they requested maintenance on it, and tenants were ignored, the landlord is very likely to be held liable if someone is injured in that scenario.Case Law
In order to prove successful in a slip and fall case, the plaintiff must provide sufficient proof that four elements were present.
Four Elements Necessary to Prove Slip and Fall Lawsuit:
- Duty of care by the defendant
- Knowledge by the defendant of the dangerous condition
- Presence of a dangerous condition
- Injuries sustained as a direct result of the dangerous condition
A slip and fall accident on a commercial property refers to a restaurant, store, or other place of business. To establish negligence, it will be necessary to show that the commercial entity either caused the dangerous condition or failed to act once it became evident.
There is an additional scenario, which is that the business should have known about the potentially dangerous condition. This can be harder to prove, as it requires that a reasonably competent caretaker of the property would have noticed the condition and fixed it.
In residential property slips and falls, both the property owner as well as landlords may be held accountable for injuries to tenants or visitors. To establish this, the tenant or guest must establish that a few elements were present.
These factors include:
- The landlord was reasonably aware of the condition that caused the slip and fall
- A routine repair would have fixed the dangerous condition
- A serious injury was the likely aftermath of not correcting the problem
- The landlord's actions or lack thereof caused the person to slip and fall on the property.
If a slip and fall injury happens on a property that is a municipal, state or federal building, more rules will apply. Sometimes, the building may be protected by immunity guidelines, shielding them from liability. However, an expert attorney can help to cut through that jargon and determine if you have a potential settlement.Important Things to Consider
Establishing evidence to prove the negligence or misconduct of the at-fault party is the most vital component of a slip and fall case. This means establishing the conditions of your fall as evidence of a negligent management of property or business. For example, if you slip on a piece of ice on the floor of a restaurant in front of a soda machine, your case wouldn’t be very strong. This is because there is no way that ice could have been on the ground very long. However, if you slip on a puddle of melted ice cream in a high traffic area then it can be easily established that the restaurant would have had reasonable knowledge of a dangerous situation and plenty of time to clean it up, since the ice cream had time to melt.
Many slip and fall cases can be settled out of court. It is, however, important to have good legal consultation to know if your settlement is really appropriate or if you’re being taken advantage of.Important Legislation
Under the California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 335.1, there is a two year deadline for filing a case for negligence. Since most slip and fall cases fall under negligence, this means that most slip and fall cases have a two year statute of limitations.
Under the California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 338, you have three years to file for personal property damage. Therefore, if you experienced the damage of personal property during a slip and fall accident – say, damage to your laptop or an expensive watch or pair of glasses – then you could also file for the repair or replacement of those items within three years of the date of the accident.
California legislation also allows for what is called “comparative negligence.” This means that more than one party can be at-fault. However, the important consideration for this ruling means understanding how it could affect your case. If you are seen as sharing in the fault for your slip and fall accident then you could potentially lose a significant amount of your possible monetary damages award. This is just one of the many reasons why having an experienced lawyer by your side really helps. An experienced legal representative will help fight for the settlement you deserve, and understands how to present your case under the applicable local and state laws.Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Slip and Fall Case?
The statute of limitations for a slip and fall case is two years from the date of the accident. Of course, the sooner you file the stronger your case may be due to the relative freshness of the evidence that can be gathered in support of your lawsuit.
If your lawsuit is against a government entity then the statute of limitations is only six months.
Are There Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations?
Yes. Certain exceptions can extend the deadline. These exceptions include: physical incapacitation, mental incapacitation, delayed injury onset, minor injured parties, time spent out of state, and wartime suspension.
What Should I do Immediately After?
Take a photograph of the cause of the fall. This evidence helps in proving the cause of the fall. Then, seek immediate medical treatment to begin documenting the damage caused by the accident.
Is There Always Legal Cause for a Lawsuit in the Event of a Fall?
No. Circumstances require that certain elements of duty and breach of that duty are in place in order for there to be a legal case. In order to determine if you have a case, contact a knowledgeable attorney for a consultation.When to Contact an Attorney
Without proper legal representation, you may be on the hook for fees you never even thought about. These fees can be any of the following:
- Future medical procedures
- Physical therapy
- Prescription medication costs
- Property damage
- Ambulance fees
- Doctor fees
- Lost wages and related expenses
We hold negligent property owners accountable. We advocate for our clients to get the best settlement possible. At Bridgewater Law Group we know many of the strategies used by property owners, and we know how to counter them. Let our attorneys advocate for your case. We know when a fair settlement is on the table and when there is more to be won. We will fight for the best medical treatment regarding your case and compensating for this disruption to your time and family.No fee Unless We Win
Your win is our win, and we will not settle for anything else. We will work on a contingency basis, which means there is no cost to you. With nothing to lose, you have everything to gain. Give us a call today for a free consultation, in less than 30 minutes; we will know if we can win together with you.