Slip, trip and fall accidents refer to situations where a visitor slips or falls on someone else's property because of unreasonably dangerous conditions. The accident can be due to a number of factors such as slippery or unmaintained floors, objects left in walk ways or tears in carpeting. Injuries involved with such accidents depend on whether the victim slipped or tripped before falling. Slipping usually results in the individual falling on their back, often resulting in back and head injuries, while tripping generally causes one to fall forward making them vulnerable to sprained joints or broken bones. Elderly or very young children may experience more serious injuries, which require immediate medical treatment.
Despite the frequency of such accidents, property owners do still have a responsibility to be cautious when keeping up their property. Overly hazardous conditions can easily lead to a serious accident for a visitor and while proving liability may prove complicated, it is nonetheless possible with the help of the right personal injury lawyer. Laws on determining liability in a slip and fall accident vary from state to state. In California, one has the option to file a premises liability claim against a property owner but time limits and negligence laws may apply.
The first noteworthy feature of California laws on premises liability is that a time limit may apply on how long one has to file a claim. The statute of limitations to file a claim after being injured in a slip, trip and fall accident is two years from the date of the incident. This limit is calculated on a pure time period and includes weekends and public holidays. The best way to keep this limit from hindering one's ability to claim rightful compensation is to be prompt in action. Efforts to seek legal advice on filing a claim should begin immediately after the accident to ensure that the statute of limitations does not run out before the claim can be concluded.
Negligence claims in California are processed using a fault-determining system known as pure comparative negligence. This system, applied to all personal injury and premises liability claims in the state, awards compensation based on the percentage of fault given to each party in the case.
Using pure comparative negligence, the judge or jury will assign percentages of fault to the defendant and the plaintiff. If the plaintiff is found to have contributed to his or her own injury, they may be assigned a degree of fault. What every percentage is given to the plaintiff will directly be deducted from the amount of damages they can claim from the property owner.
For example, if Jane was visiting John's hardware store when she slipped on a wet floor and hurt her back, she may file a premises liability claim because John's floor was too slippery for anyone to safely walk on. However, through the course of the claim, the judge finds that John had placed a sign that warned visitors of the wet floor and that Jane had seen the sign before she slipped because it didn't look dangerous to the eye. The jury or judge may decide to assign Jane 30 percent of fault for not giving greater heed to the warning and John will be 70 percent for having such a dangerous feature in his store. If Jane's medical bills were $10,000 from beginning to the end of treatment, the percentage of fault will be applied directly to those costs. Therefore, John will only be responsible for $7,000 and Jane will still pay the remaining $3,000.
Property and business owners in California have a responsibility of keeping their grounds as safe as possible. This not only includes the avoidance of hazardous condition but also warning others of danger if there is an unsafe condition on their premises. Property owners are required to be aware of dangers on their property. If the owner reasonably should have known of a danger that led to one being injured, they will be held responsible as if they caused or neglected to warn of the condition.
If you were injured by slipping or tripping on someone else's property, you may have grounds to make a legal claim in order to recover compensation for the damage. Depending on the particular circumstances of your situation, a San Fernando Valley personal injury attorney from our office may be able to help you determine the appropriate course of action. Contact The Law Offices of Gerald L. Marcus today to learn more.