Slip-and-fall accidents are a common type of personal injury claim. They happen when a person injures themselves on another party's property due to the property owner's negligence.
Common causes of slip-and-fall accidents include uneven carpeting, slick floors, spills, exposed cables, uneven or missing steps, damaged handrails, and dimly lit spaces. To recover damages for a slip-and-fall accident, a claimant must prove that a defendant was liable for the accident.
Under California Civil Code § 1714(a), state premises liability laws impose a duty of care for business and property owners to keep their premises safe for patrons, guests, and visitors. This duty of care includes several key responsibilities:
- Maintaining the Property: Property owners must take all reasonable steps to maintain their premises in safe conditions. This includes repairing any known hazards or dangerous conditions that could pose a risk of harm to visitors.
- Regularly Inspecting the Property: Property owners should conduct regular inspections of their premises to identify any potential hazards or unsafe conditions. Regular inspections help ensure that any issues are promptly addressed.
- Warning Guests of Potential Hazards: If there are hazardous conditions that are not immediately obvious to visitors, the property owner should provide warnings to alert guests to the potential dangers. This may include posting signs, using barriers, or giving verbal warnings.
- Repairing Potentially Dangerous Conditions: When a hazardous condition is identified, property owners should take appropriate measures to repair or remedy the issue as soon as possible to prevent accidents and injuries.
It is important to note that the extent of the duty of care and the level of responsibility may vary depending on the legal status of the visitor. For example, an invitee (such as a customer or guest) is owed the highest duty of care, while a trespasser is owed a lower duty of care, although the property owner must still refrain from intentionally causing harm.
People involved in slip-and-fall accidents will need to take several important steps following an accident. These will include:
- Seek prompt medical care. Even if you do not feel hurt, it is best for you to see a doctor as soon as you can after a slip and fall accident. This will help to document your injuries and strengthen your claim for compensation. Delayed treatment can worsen your injuries. When you delay seeking medical attention for an injury, you are at risk of increasing the severity of your injury because the longer you wait to treat an injury, the more time it has to worsen. This is especially true when it comes to soft tissue injuries, like sprains and strains. Developing complications can also be common because delaying treatment can also increase your risk of developing complications from your injury. For example, if you have a fracture, waiting to get it treated could increase your risk of infection. You could also be at risk of losing range of motion. If you do not start treatment right away, you may lose range of motion in the injured area. This can make it difficult to recover from an injury and return to normal activities. You may also be at risk of exacerbating pain. Pain is a natural part of the healing process, but it can become unbearable if you do not seek treatment. Waiting to get treatment can make the pain worse and make it more difficult to manage. If you have been injured, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Early treatment can also help you recover more quickly and prevent complications.
- Take pictures of the accident scene. If possible, take pictures of the accident scene as soon as possible after the accident. This will help to preserve evidence of the accident and show the extent of your injuries.
- Report your accident to the property owner or manager. As soon as you can after the accident, you should report it to the property owner or manager. This will help them to investigate the accident and make repairs if necessary. In your report, make sure to include all of the relevant details about the accident, such as the date and time of your fall, where you fell, what caused your fall, if there were any witnesses to your fall, any pain you happen to be experiencing, and which parts of your body you believe were injured. It is OK if you are not completely sure what your injury is or how severe it is. However, noting any potential injuries in your report will make it harder for a property owner to deny liability later on.
- Obtain witness contact information. If there were any witnesses to the accident, get their names and contact information. This will help you to prove that the accident was caused by the property owner's negligence.
- Look for surveillance cameras. When examining the scene of your accident, be sure to look for a surveillance camera nearby. It could have possibly recorded your fall and may also have earlier footage of the accident scene. Such facts can help prove an owner or business manager knew or should have known about a hazard and failed to take steps to correct it.
- Keep your shoes and clothes. Another step many people do not always think about is saving their clothing and shoes from an incident. An insurance company may try to argue that clothes or shoes caused a trip or fall. You could be able to refute any potential argument by taking pictures of the shoes and clothes you were wearing at the time, and preserving them in a sealed plastic bag until the claim is settled.
- Do not sign any documents. You should not sign an accident report or any other documents without first having them reviewed by a slip and fall accident attorney. You may be waiving important legal rights without even realizing it.
- Contact a slip and fall accident attorney. Hiring a skilled slip-and-fall accident lawyer after a fall will be one of the surest ways to protect your legal rights. An experienced attorney will know how to collect all of the evidence necessary to prove an at-fault party's negligence, file your claim with their insurance company, and ensure you are able to receive the full injury compensation you deserve.
Most businesses are prepared to fight slip-and-fall claims and deny people any compensation, so you will want to retain legal counsel in these instances. Arshakyan Law Firm has helped scores of people with slip and fall claims throughout California.
Our firm will be able to conduct an independent investigation into your accident and work to ensure that you can recover all of the damages you are entitled to. Call (888) 851-5005 or contact us online today to set up a free consultation.