Slip and Fall Claims in California
Every year in the United States, over one million people find themselves in the hospital as the result of a slip and fall. Oftentimes people fall and suffer only minor injuries, but these accidents can also lead to broken bones, concussions, and other serious harm. While not every fall will lead to legal liability, there are times when a slip and fall is the result of another person or entity’s negligence. In these situations, the negligent party will be liable to the injured person for the harm that was caused.
When does a slip and fall lead to liability?
Legal liability in a slip and fall claim is the result of negligence on the part of the owner or operator of the property. Negligence happens when an individual fails to act as a reasonably prudent person would act under the same set of circumstances. In order to make a successful negligence claim, the injured person must be able to illustrate the fact that the owner of the property owed a duty to him or her, that the owner was in breach of that duty and that the breach resulted in actual injuries to the harmed person.
In a slip and fall case, the duty owed to the injured person is different depending on why the person was on the property. If the person was injured while shopping at a convenience store, the duty owed and the expectation that the premises are kept safe are both high. If a house guest is injured, the expectations are not as high, but there is still a duty to warn of dangers or to remedy hazardous situations. If the injured person was trespassing, then the owner of the property only owed a minor duty to the injured person.
One of the most important factors in a slip and fall case is what was known or should have been known about the hazardous situation by the owner of the property. If a person fell in a shop because of a spill that had been on the floor for three hours, it is safe to say that the owner or person in charge of the shop would have either known of the spill or at least should have known about it. However, if someone had only just spilled something, and someone slipped in it before anyone had an opportunity to clean the mess up, there would not be a strong argument for negligence.
What if I was also negligent?
In California, it is possible to recover damages from another negligent party, even if you were negligent. Under the doctrine of comparative negligence, you can collect damages equal to the percentage of liability the other party has for your injuries. For instance, if you slipped on a spill in a shop that the owner should have known about, but you could have avoided the fall had you been watching where you were going rather than staring at your phone, then you might be found partially responsible for your injury. If the court found you 25% liable, and the owner 75% at fault, you could collect up to 75% of your damages from the owner.
If you were injured in a slip and fall, you should contact an attorney to discuss your claim. Each case is different, and it is important to get advice from someone who has all of the facts. At Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox LLP we know how severely these injuries can impact your life. Contact us today at 909-798-3300 for a consultation.
Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.