Slip and fall accidents can cause very serious injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control, slip and fall accidents are the number one cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) for victims, regardless of age. Unfortunately, slip and fall accidents are also the leading cause of death for Americans over the age of 65.
Even though slip and fall accidents are common, insurance companies will often try to pay you less than you deserve. They may even try to blame you for your slip and fall and deny your claim completely. And if your accident happened in a big box store, their corporate strategy is often to ignore you in the hopes that you’ll go away.
At The Dominguez Firm, our Los Angels slip and fall lawyers have years of experience handling slip and fall claims. If you’ve been injured, know that we’re here to help you move forward with your claim. Below you’ll find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding slip and fall accidents.
Can I Sue if I Slip and Fall?
To be able to sue for a slip and fall accident, you must prove liability, or in other words, legal responsibility. If a property owner, lessee or person who controlled a property knew, or should have known there was a dangerous or hazardous condition and didn’t correct it, they would be liable if it caused you to injure yourself. The same holds true if they caused a dangerous or hazardous condition and didn’t correct it.
Examples of dangerous or hazardous conditions include:
- Spills in grocery store aisles
- A construction site that isn’t adequately roped off
- Electrical cords running across a floor where customers walk
- Broken or uneven flooring
- Broken stairs
- Broken or missing stairwell railings
Here in California, the person who controls a property is responsible for making sure that property is safe for anyone that enters it.
Can I Sue Someone if I Fall on Their Property?
It depends. Once you’ve established exactly who controls the property in question, you need to show that the individual or entity (the defendant), did not properly maintain their property, causing you to slip and fall, resulting in injuries.
Examples would include:
- A customer who slips and falls in a store due to loose carpeting.
- A tenant who slips and falls due to a broken or missing stairwell railing.
- A construction site that isn’t properly cordoned off, exposing passersby to dangers.
Is a Slip and Fall Case Hard to Prove?
They can be. Although anyone who controls a property is required to keep it safe, those who suffer a slip and fall accident are also expected to be aware of their surroundings at all times.
It’s common for property owners and their insurance companies to argue that the injured person is completely or partially to blame for their slip and fall injuries. Among the most common arguments that defense attorneys will use are:
- The plaintiff was distracted. This can be anything from being on a cellphone to a child diverting their attention when they slipped and fell.
- The plaintiff entered an area that was off-limits to the public.
- If the plaintiff fell on a spilled liquid in a grocery store, the store owner might argue that the spill had just occurred and wasn’t on the floor long enough for an employee to notice and clean it up.
- The plaintiff was wearing footwear that could cause a fall. Examples include high heels or flip flops.
All of these defenses have proven successful. That’s why it’s important for slip and fall victims to seek out witnesses to their accident and any video footage of the event. They should also call the experienced Los Angeles slip and fall lawyers at The Dominguez Firm for a free consultation. Proving a slip and fall accident was the property owner’s fault can be a difficult task. At The Dominguez Firm, we’ve been successfully handling slip and fall cases for over 30 years and know exactly what it takes to prove a property owner’s liability.
Your slip and fall claim could be worth far more than you think it is — and it could be quite difficult to calculate without the aid of an experienced slip and fall lawyer. Some of the components of your settlement or verdict under California law might include:
- Past, present and future medical bills.
- Past, present and future lost earnings
- Out-of-pocket expenses arising from your accident (such as child care while you are in the hospital)
- Pain and suffering, mental anguish and other non-economic damages
- Punitive cases (only when the defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious)
- Wrongful death damages (for close relatives if the victim dies from his injuries)
Future medical bills and lost earnings could be tricky to calculate if you were employed at the time of the accident, or if you require lifelong medical treatment. You may need expert medical testimony, for example, to estimate your future medical bills.
Although pain and suffering and other intangible damages are inherently difficult to calculate, they often add up to far more than the total for medical bills. Total recoveries in the six to seven figures are not terribly uncommon in cases of catastrophic slip and fall injuries.
How Long After a Slip and Fall Can You Sue?
Generally, for most slip and fall accidents, a person has 2 years from the date of the accident to file a claim in California. However, if the accident occurred on government property (for example, a post office), the time limit to file drops to six months or 120 days from the date of the accident.
If the person injured in a slip and fall accident is a minor (under the age of 18), the time limit extends to two years after their birthday. This is known as a statute of limitations in legal terms.
Typically, once the statute of limitations expires, any attempt to file a slip and fall claim will be denied. It doesn’t matter how serious the injuries were, even if it resulted in someone’s death.
What is the Average Settlement for a Slip and Fall?
There are no set settlement amounts for slip and fall cases. Also, California is a pure comparative negligence state. Any damages awarded to the victim may be reduced by whichever percentage the court decides the victim was at fault for the accident, if any.
For example, if someone fell because there was a spill in a grocery store aisle, their damages may be reduced if it was shown that they were on their cellphone texting while walking down the aisle. The percentage reduction will be subtracted from their final settlement amount.
Every slip and fall accident has its own set of circumstances. Several factors must be considered:
- The extent of the injuries suffered in the fall.
- The victim’s age and the status of their health before the fall occurred.
- The impact of the victim’s injuries on their quality of life.
- To what extent the victim’s ability to earn a living has been impacted.
Some of the damages (the money to which they are entitled for their slip and fall accident) are very easy to add up. These include medical bills, lost income and if there are serious injuries, ongoing care and/or physical therapy.
Subjective losses, such as pain and suffering are much harder to assign a dollar amount to. If the plaintiff’s attorney can show that their client suffered permanent injuries due to their injuries, they will request a higher settlement amount.
The experienced slip and fall attorneys at The Dominguez Firm can compare the specifics of your case to similar cases they’ve handled to get an estimate of what would be a fair and just settlement.
How Long Does it Take to Settle a Slip and Fall Lawsuit?
As long as it takes to obtain the best possible outcome for a client. Of course, that doesn’t give any sort of time frame, but a lot will also depend on:
- How the defendant responds to the slip and fall lawsuit.
- The complexity of the case.
- The injuries sustained.
Typically, cases involving minor injuries will settle out of court. Attorneys for both parties agree on a settlement amount and there’s no need to go to trial.
However, sometimes the defendant’s insurance company makes an unreasonably low settlement offer or attempts to place the blame for the slip and fall completely on the plaintiff, denying all liability. When this happens, the case is probably going to trial.
A seasoned Los Angeles slip and fall lawyer won’t be afraid to go to trial for their client if it means obtaining a fair and just award. Especially if the client has suffered serious injuries, which the defense refuses to acknowledge. At The Dominguez Firm, we’ve been taking on the biggest insurance companies for years. We have the resources to fight. That means we can and will see a case through until we reach the best outcome possible outcome for our slip and fall clients.
Do I Need an Attorney for a Slip and Fall?
Not hiring an attorney for your slip and fall accident can cost you dearly. Insurance company adjusters negotiate settlements every day. Most people do not. These adjusters are trained to pay out as little as possible and close a claim quickly.
If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, don’t take on a defense attorney and/or an insurance company by yourself. This is especially true if you’ve suffered serious injuries, have a complex case or lost a loved one due to a slip and fall accident.
At The Dominguez Firm, we can go over your case and answer any questions you might have. And if you think you can’t afford a lawyer, know that the slip and fall attorneys at The Dominguez Firm offer free case consultations. And we promise: no recovery, no fee. You incur no out-of-pocket expenses, so there’s no reason to go it alone.
Who is Responsible for a Slip and Fall Accident?
As previously noted, property owners, lessees or individuals occupying a property have a responsibility to maintain a safe environment for visitors. In simple terms, the person who controls the property must keep it free of dangers. If they don’t and someone injures themselves in a slip and fall accident, that property owner, lessee or individual occupying a property are responsible and can be sued.
How Do You Prove Negligence in a Slip and Fall?
Once you’ve established who controls the property, you must prove that they were negligent in the care and upkeep of the property. This determination is made by looking at the following:
- That there was a condition on a property which created what’s called an unreasonable risk of harm. It can be natural or man-made. Examples include a spill in a grocery aisle or a walkway that has not been cleared of ice at a hotel.
- The defendant knew or should have been aware of the hazardous condition.
- The defendant didn’t repair the condition, give fair warning or protect anyone entering the property from harm due to the condition.
The easiest way to prove negligence in a slip and fall case is through the testimony of witnesses, photographs or any video footage. A law firm experienced in slip and fall accidents, like The Dominguez Firm can handle every part of your case.
What to Do After a Slip and Fall
At The Dominguez Firm, our first priority is your safety and well-being. If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, do not hesitate to seek medical attention. If you can, you should also:
- File a report with the store manager or owner.
- Take photos of the area where you fell and anything that might have contributed to your fall. Examples include boxes blocking an aisle or lack of signage near a spill.
- See if anyone witnessed your fall. Request their names, phone numbers and addresses.
- Get the name and job title of any employee you speak to.
- If you are asked to fill out an accident report, do it. It’s best to record all of the facts while they’re still fresh in your head. Ask for a copy of it.
- Check to see if there are cameras. Most stores have them. Take photos of them. Your attorney can request any footage for your case.
- Do not speak to any insurance company representatives or representatives of the property or business involved. And certainly, don’t allow yourself to be recorded. There’s no law that says you must allow an insurance adjuster to record you.
- Keep all medical records, receipts for expenses and the clothes and footwear you were wearing when you fell in a safe place. All of this is evidence for your slip and fall case.
- Keep details of your accident off of all social media platforms. Don’t post anything about it on any social media account you may have. Even something that may seem trivial to you can harm your case.
- Call the experienced Los Angeles slip and fall lawyers at The Dominguez Firm right away.
If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, call The Dominguez Firm for a free case review at 800-818-1818 right away. Our firm has over 30 years of experience successfully helping slip and fall victims get the best medical treatment and maximum financial compensation, and we can do the same for you. And we stand by our promise: no recovery, no fee. Call now.