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The Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Liability in Slip and Fall Cases

Understanding who is responsible for your slip and fall injuries can be difficult. Our premises liability attorneys have compiled a comprehensive guide to demystifying slip and fall liability.

What You Need to Prove to Recover Compensation

Slips and falls are under the umbrella of premises liability. A premises liability case occurs when an accident victim holds a property owner (or someone else whose negligence caused a property hazard) liable for their injuries and losses.

To recover compensation after a slip or trip and fall, you must prove the following: 

  • There was a dangerous condition on the property. For example, there is a broken handrail in the main stairwell on the property.
  • The property owner (or someone else who leased, occupied, or otherwise controlled the property) created the hazard, or they knew or should have known of the hazard. The owner received complaints about the broken handrail in the weeks leading up to the accident.
  • The property owner failed to fix the hazard or warn visitors. The owner did not fix the handrail or warn visitors of the hazard.
  • You suffered injuries and damages due to the hazard. You fell down the stairs due to the broken handrail. You sustained a traumatic brain injury, which led to medical bills and time off work.

Our team can gather the evidence necessary to prove your case. This may include: 

  • Maintenance records (or lack thereof)
  • Previous complaints of hazards on the property
  • Previous accident reports on the property
  • Surveillance video
  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Photos of the hazard  

Your Status at the Time of Your Slip and Fall Accident

The property owner’s liability depends on your “status” at the time of the accident. In California, people on another person’s property can be one of three types of visitors: 

  • Invitee: Someone the property owner expressly invited onto the property.
  • Licensee: Someone who was on the property but who wasn’t expressly invited.
  • Trespasser: Someone who was not legally allowed on the property. 

According to CIV § 846, property owners do not owe visitors a duty of care to keep the premises “safe for entry” or safe for “recreational activities.” Essentially, the property owner is only required to keep their property safe for invitees. 

However, there are exceptions, per CIV § 846.

  • Property owners cannot “willfully or maliciously” fail to fix a dangerous condition or fail to warn visitors of it. For example, if the property owner knows that people trespass on their property, they can’t leave an unnoticeable hazard unremedied. 
  • Property owners must keep their properties safe for anyone who pays to enter it. 
  • You didn’t know you were trespassing. 

Our team will determine your status and let you know how it might affect your case.

How Negligence Causes Slips and Falls

Some of the most common acts of negligence that cause slips and falls are:

  • Failing to clean up or mark a spill
  • Failing to put out wet floor signs
  • Failing to clean up debris in an aisle
  • Not repairing torn carpeting
  • Not taping down electrical cords
  • Inadequate lighting in stairwells or parking lots

We can help you regardless of how your accident happened.

Defenses Against Liability

The insurance company doesn’t want to pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. As such, it will likely attempt to deny your claim by alleging one of the following:

  • You contributed to the accident. If you were texting or otherwise distracted when the accident occurred, the insurance company could claim that you are partially or totally responsible for your accident.
  • The hazard was obvious and didn’t require warning. The insurer may claim that the property owner or controller didn’t need to place warning signs because the hazard was impossible to miss.
  • You injured yourself on purpose. The insurer may claim you injured yourself on purpose for insurance claims. 
  • You were trespassing. 

How Comparative Negligence Can Affect Your Case

As stated above, the insurer may claim you contributed to the accident or injury. If you share any liability for your accident or injury, it will affect your recovery. 

You can still recover compensation, but your percentage of fault will decrease your potential compensation. Our personal injury attorneys will investigate your case and determine whether you may share liability. 

Our Team Can Help You Hold a Property Owner Liable for a Slip and Fall

Liability is difficult to prove in slip or trip and fall cases. Our slip and fall attorneys are here to help. We can explain who might be liable and how we can establish their liability. Call us today to get help: (818) 507-8525.

We Will Fight For You

Contact our firm to get started.
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