When is a Property Owner Liable for a Slip and Fall Accident

Closer Look: When is a Property Owner Liable for a Slip and Fall Accident?

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In this article, we cover one of the first questions that people who have been in a slip and fall accident have. Get in-depth answer to the questions.

Whether you’re in Los Angeles or any other city across California, slip and fall accidents occur every day, causing injury, stress, and suffering to those who are victims. When a slip and fall accident occurs because of a property owner’s inability to maintain a reasonably safe environment, the property owner can be held liable. California, like many other states across the United States, has premise liability laws that require property owners to maintain a reasonably safe environment that is free from dangerous conditions. In cases where the property owner is liable for the accident, the victim can receive compensation for medical bills, lost income, and other damages. 

In this article, we cover one of the first questions that people who have been in a slip and fall accident have—when is a property owner liable for a slip and fall accident? Prior to providing an in-depth answer to this question, we provide a quick background on slip and fall accidents. 

What are Slip and Fall Accidents?

These types of accidents occur when a person slips and falls due to a variety of different reasons such as, for example, slippery floors. The term slip and fall is often used interchangeably with trip and fall, and although both types of accidents are similar—they are not exactly the same. Slip and fall accidents are caused by a person slipping because their foot loses friction with the floor or a walking surface. Trip and fall accidents, on the other hand,  occur as a result of a person tripping over something that is obstructing their walking path.

In most cases, slip and fall accidents result in a person falling backwards—because their leg does not grip the floor as they step forward, but instead, flails upwards. As a result, while there is a wide range of injuries that someone can sustain from a slip and fall accident, some that are common to this type of accident include slipped (or herniated) discs, vertebrae fractures, neck injuries (including whiplash), broken shoulders and collarbones, and concussions.

In California, slip and fall personal injury lawsuits must typically be filed within two years of the date that the accident occured. 

What are Some of the Most Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents?

People slip and fall for numerous different reasons. That said, they most typically occur as a result of the following causes:

  • Leaks or spills
  • Loose, broken, or missing railings
  • Improperly cleaned floors
  • Loose carpeting
  • Lack of signage on wet surfaces

What are Some Common Locations Where Slip and Falls Occur?

Slip and falls can occur virtually anywhere. However, some of the most common places where slip and fall accidents occur include supermarkets, grocery stores, restaurants, office buildings, parking lots, parks, private homes, vacation rentals, and on  government property. Supermarkets, grocery stores, and restaurants or cafes are especially common places where these accidents occur. This is because in these places it is more likely that liquid has been spilled and that the floor is wet, compared to other places.

When is a Property Owner Liable for a Slip and Fall?

According to California law, property owners have a duty to ensure people who enter their property are protected from harm. Simply put, a property owner is liable for a slip and fall accident if they were negligent in the maintenance or use of the property where the accident took place. This means that there was an unreasonable risk of harm that the property owner knew or should have known about, and furthermore, the property owner failed to repair the condition or give an appropriate warning.

If you believe that a property owner is at fault for a slip and fall accident on their property, you should consider the following questions:

  • Was there a hazard or condition that led to the slip and fall accident?
  • Was there any warning signage alerting people about the hazard or condition?
  • Did the victim’s carelessness or lack of attention contribute to the slip and fall?

In the case that a property owner’s negligence was the result of your slip and fall, you can likely recover compensation for:

  • Bills related to medical treatments, physical therapy, and rehabilitation; 
  • Lost wages due to time away from work;
  • Lost earning capacity; and
  • Mental anguish, pain, and suffering.

Steps to Take After a Slip and Fall Accident

There are certain steps you should take after a slip and fall accident. This will not only help ensure your safety, but in addition, will also help demonstrate that the accident occured due to the property owner’s inability to maintain a safe environment. We cover these steps below. 

Check to See if You’re Injured

Open cuts and lacerations are easy to spot, but you also want to make sure to check for injuries such as broken and dislocated bones, as well as potential concussion symptoms. If you feel a sharp or throbbing pain in a specific location, it is best to seek immediate medical attention. Related to concussion, common symptoms that people report (according to the CDC) include:

  • headache or what people describe as “pressure” in the head;
  • nausea or vomiting;
  • inability to balance (or dizziness);
  • double or blurry vision; 
  • feeling hazy or foggy; and
  • difficulty concentrating or memory problems.

Make an Incident Report and Get a Copy of It

Most people who suffer injuries from a slip and fall accident leave the store immediately because they are so shaken up. If you are able to, make sure to file an incident report with whoever is managing the property (for example, a store manager). The goal is to report the incident to the highest-ranking person on the premises. Make sure that you obtain a copy of this report, as it will be vital to your case if you decide to file a claim. Remember, the only details you should provide are that you had a slip and fall and that you have sustained injuries. Do not make any statements apologizing or admitting to any fault. 

Get Contact Information of Any Witnesses 

If any witnesses saw the slip and fall accident occur, or even perhaps a witness who helped you after you fell, make sure to get their contact information. Witnesses can provide crucial details that will strengthen your case if the property owner was responsible for your accident. 

Take Photos of Where the Slip and Fall Occurred

Taking photos of the location where the slip and fall accident occurred is key! Take as many photos as you can, including photos of specific things such as spilled liquid or wet floors, as well as zoomed-out photos of the general area where the slip and fall happened. Videos are also helpful—simply start recording and show different aspects of the area while narrating what happened. 

Don’t Make Statements or Sign Documents from the Insurance Company

If you file an incident report, do not be surprised to receive a call from the property owner’s insurance company. Do not make any statements to insurance companies, apologize for anything, or sign any documents. Almost always, these insurance companies will use cunning tactics with the exclusive goal of escaping liability. Instead, talk to an experienced attorney, such as the ones at Forward Law Group (more on this later). 

Once You’re Home, Write Down All Details 

While your memory is still fresh, write down all of the details related to your slip and fall accident. Some details you might write down include the steps that led to the fall, what you believe caused the slip and fall, the injuries you sustained, a description of the area where the accident happened, and what steps you took after the slip and fall accident. If you are too startled to write down the details, an audio recording on your smartphone might be a better option.

Contact An Experienced Attorney

Obtaining the assistance of an attorney who is experienced in slip and fall cases is always a great idea. As mentioned previously, most properties are backed by insurance companies who will go to great lengths to prove that the slip and fall accident was your fault—even if the evidence shows otherwise. A qualified attorney will handle all necessary communication with a property’s insurance company. Beyond that, they know how to get key evidence such as video camera footage (if any exists) that property owners are often unwilling to give to victims. An attorney will also keep a detailed record of the incident, your injuries and medical treatments, and paperwork from insurance companies—relieving you of this stressful and cumbersome task. Finally, a competent attorney will guide you through the entire process, and help you get compensated for your injuries and all other damages. 

At Forward Law Group, we proudly provide victims of slip and fall accidents across Los Angeles and California with a free, no strings attached consultation to discuss the details of their case and how we can help. In addition, we work on a contingency basis for slip and fall cases—meaning you do not pay us anything until we win your case. Finally, we are deeply committed to our clients and achieving the best outcome for them so that you get the justice you deserve and put this unfortunate accident in the rearview. 

Call Forward Law Group After Your Slip and Fall Accident

Needless to say, slip and fall accidents can be difficult for victims to navigate, especially if the victim has sustained injuries. At Forward Law Group, our attorneys are committed to helping our clients get justice and compensation for their injuries. If you have had a slip and fall accident in Los Angeles or California, let us help navigate your case and get you the best possible result. For more information or to schedule a free consultation, call us today at (818) 471-8389.