A slip and fall accident can leave a victim with serious injuries. If the victim is over 65 years old, it can easily prove fatal. If you were injured in a slip and fall accident on someone’s property, you might wonder if you have a case for compensation. The key factor determining liability in these situations is whether the property owner was negligent in maintaining their premises. 

Please keep reading as we explain what liability is, how it relates to slip and fall cases, the duty of care a property owner has and the steps you can take to prove your claim. We’ll also discuss the importance of securing evidence quickly to protect your rights.

Were you seriously injured in a slip and fall accident? Call The Dominguez Firm today for a free consultation at (800)818-1818!

In personal injury law, liability refers to who is responsible for your injuries. It comes down to whether someone else’s carelessness caused your accident. Imagine someone owed you a duty to act safely, but they breached that duty by acting negligently, such as by not maintaining their property. If their negligence caused your injuries, they may be liable for your damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. So when your personal injury attorney talks about liability, they are referring to whose actions caused your injuries.

What Duty of Care Do Property Owners Have?

Property owners have a responsibility to keep their premises reasonably safe for visitors. They should act to identify and fix potential hazards or at least warn visitors about them. Here are some specific examples:

  • Keeping walkways clear of tripping hazards like debris, uneven surfaces, or poor lighting.
  • Fixing the most common slip and fall hazards immediately, such as broken staircase handrails, uneven floor surfaces and broken tiles.
  • Posting warning signs about wet floors or ongoing maintenance.
  • Addressing dangers in common areas like swimming pools or playgrounds.
  • Ensuring adequate lighting in all areas, especially in stairwells, walkways, and entrances to help improve visibility for visitors.

Overall, property owners must proactively identify and address potential hazards to protect the safety of everyone on their premises.

What is Comparative Negligence and What Does it Have to Do With My Slip and Fall Case?

Comparative negligence is a legal concept relevant to slip and fall cases in California. It impacts how liability is determined and the compensation awarded.

  • Understanding Comparative Negligence: In California, comparative negligence recognizes that multiple parties can contribute to an accident, including a slip and fall. It assesses the percentage of fault each party bears.
  • Role in Slip and Fall Cases: For instance, if you slipped on a wet floor in a store but were distracted and didn’t notice a warning sign, both you and the property owner might share fault. Comparative negligence evaluates the extent of each party’s responsibility.
  • Impact on Compensation: If you’re partially at fault for your slip and fall, your compensation can be reduced proportionally. For example, if you’re found 20% at fault, your compensation may be lowered by that percentage.
  • Evidence and Documentation: Evidence like witness statements, surveillance footage, and medical records are crucial in proving or disproving comparative negligence. Detailed documentation of the accident scene can also be significant.
  • Legal Guidance: Because California’s laws regarding comparative negligence can be complex, you should consult with an experienced slip and fall accident attorney before taking any legal action. They can assess your case, gather evidence, and navigate legal proceedings on your behalf.

Note that in California, you can be over 50% responsible for your slip and fall accident and still file a personal injury claim against the property owner in question. 

What Can I Do to Secure Evidence After a Slip and Fall Accident?

After a slip and fall accident, securing evidence is crucial to support your claim and protect your rights. Here are steps you can take to do so effectively:

  • Seek Medical Attention: Your health is the top priority. Get medical attention right away, even if your injuries seem minor. Doing so creates a record of your injuries and links them to the accident.
  • Document the Scene: If you’re able, take pictures or videos of the hazard that caused your fall from multiple angles. Include surrounding areas to show the overall condition of the property.
  • Report the Accident: Report the incident to the property owner or manager as soon as possible. Get a copy of any accident report they create.
  • Find Witnesses: If anyone saw your fall, get their contact information. Witness statements can be crucial in proving what happened.
  • Keep the Evidence: If there’s a small object involved in your fall, like a broken sprinkler head, try to keep it safe (in a bag or container) if possible. This can be helpful evidence.
  • Don’t Discuss Fault: Avoid admitting fault or discussing the accident in detail with anyone except medical professionals. Don’t post anything about the accident on social media.
  • Consult an Attorney: Consult with a personal injury attorney experienced in slip and fall cases. They can provide guidance on preserving evidence, understanding your rights, and navigating the legal process.

By following these steps, you can help strengthen your case and improve your chances of receiving fair compensation for your injuries and damages after a slip and fall accident.

Can a Lawyer Help Me With My Slip and Fall Case?

A slip-and-fall lawyer can be incredibly helpful to you. Here are some of the ways they can assist you:

  • Expertise in Evidence Collection: Personal injury attorneys have experience identifying and gathering relevant evidence crucial to your case. They know what to look for and how to properly document it.
  • Access to Resources: Lawyers have access to resources like accident reconstruction specialists, investigators, and medical experts who can provide expert opinions and strengthen your case with professional analysis.
  • Legal Knowledge: A slip-and-fall lawyer understands the legal requirements for evidence in a slip and fall case, ensuring that all necessary documentation is obtained and presented correctly.
  • Negotiation and Communication: Your attorney can communicate with the property owner, their insurance company, and other parties involved to gather evidence and negotiate on your behalf.
  • Preservation of Evidence: Lawyers can ensure evidence is preserved properly, preventing it from being lost, destroyed, or altered.
  • Court Representation: If your case goes to trial, your attorney can present the gathered evidence effectively, cross-examine witnesses, and argue your case persuasively before a judge or jury.
  • Maximizing Compensation: With strong evidence, your lawyer can build a compelling case for the full compensation you deserve, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.

Working with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney can significantly increase your chances of a successful outcome in your slip and fall case.

What Do I Need to Prove to Win My Slip and Fall Injury Claim?

To win your slip and fall injury claim in California, you’ll need to prove certain key elements. Here’s what you’ll need to demonstrate:

  1. Existence of a Hazard: Show that there was a hazardous condition on the property where the accident occurred. Hazards can include wet floors, uneven surfaces, lack of proper lighting, or obstacles in walkways.
  2. Property Owner’s Negligence: Demonstrate that the property owner or manager knew or should have known about the hazardous condition but failed to take reasonable steps to address it or warn visitors.
  3. Causation: Establish a direct link between the hazardous condition and your slip and fall accident. Medical records and expert opinions may be used to show how the accident caused your injuries.
  4. Injuries and Damages: Provide evidence of the injuries and damages you suffered due to the slip and fall. Key pieces include medical records, bills, photographs of injuries, and documentation of lost wages or other financial losses.
  5. Non-Negligent Behavior: Show that your actions were not the primary cause of the accident. For example, demonstrate that you were exercising reasonable caution and were not distracted or careless at the time of the incident.
  6. Timely Reporting and Documentation: Report the accident promptly to the property owner or manager, seek medical attention as needed, and document everything related to the incident, including witness statements, photographs, and any correspondence with the property owner or their insurance company.

You can strengthen your slip and fall injury claim by gathering and presenting evidence that supports these elements. Doing so will improve your chances of a successful outcome.

How Long Do I Have to File My Slip and Fall Accident Claim?

The amount of time you have, legally known as the statute of limitations, depends on whether your slip and fall accident happened on public or private property. Other factors, such as whether the victim was a child can also impact the time limit for filing a claim.

Slip and Fall on Public Property

In California, if your slip and fall happened on government-owned property like a sidewalk, park, or public building, the time limit for filing a claim is much shorter than for private property.  The law requires you to file a claim with the government agency responsible for maintaining the property within six months of your accident. The legal deadline is strict and missing it can significantly limit your ability to pursue compensation.

Slip and Fall on Private Property

For slip and fall accidents on private property such as a store, apartment building, or a private residence, the statute of limitations is generally two years from the date of the accident. This gives you more time to file a claim compared to public property accidents.

Don’t Wait to File Your Slip and Fall Injury Lawsuit!

You might have up to two years to file a claim for a slip and fall accident on private property, but don’t wait. Act quickly, no matter where you fell. There are several reasons why. There are several reasons why.

  • Evidence Fades: Memories can become fuzzy over time, and crucial details about the accident can be lost. Physical evidence like the condition of the property can also change.
  • You could lose touch with your witnesses: Witnesses might move away or forget key details the longer you wait. Their statements are much stronger when obtained soon after the accident.
  • Defense Challenges: The longer you wait to file a claim, the more difficult it becomes to prove your case. Defense attorneys may try to cast doubt on your memory or whether your injuries were even caused by your accident if you wait long.

By taking action right away, you can secure evidence while it’s fresh, gather witness statements, and strengthen your claim. Even if you’re sure you have a strong slip and fall accident claim, waiting to file can severely harm your case.

Call the Slip and Fall Accident Attorneys at The Dominguez Firm Today

If you were seriously injured in a slip and fall accident, The Dominguez Firm can help. We are a full-service law firm with the resources to investigate and handle your personal injury claim from start to finish.

Don’t wait, call us right away for a free consultation at (800)818-1818.

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— Ashley Magana

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