This page details California’s slip and fall law. It is meant to educate people who have recently suffered a serious injury from a fall. While this page is not a substitute for speaking with an experienced slip and fall attorney, it will provide you with a foundation to understand your legal rights.
This page covers:
- What is a “slip and fall” according to CA law?
- Who is responsible for slip and fall accidents?
- Slip & fall attorney consultation
- Common causes of slip and fall accidents
- Common injuries
- What to do if you’re the victim of a slip and fall accident
- Comparative fault
What is a “Slip and Fall” According to California law?
If you have slipped and fallen on someone else’s property, it may be a violation of law depending on the circumstances. Slip and fall accidents can occur on residential property, on commercial property, and even government property. It may be sunny, raining or snowing. The surface can be concrete, tile, wood, etc.
Legal liability in slip and fall cases does not lie in what made you fall, but whether the owner of that property was aware of the danger and should have taken reasonable steps to minimize the danger. A property owner is under a duty to others to act reasonably to keep the premises safe and prevent people from being injured. A greater degree of care is generally owed to children because of kids lack the capacity to appreciate risks and avoid dangerous conditions.
The owner of premises is under a duty to exercise ordinary care in the management of such premises in order to avoid exposing persons to an unreasonable risk of harm. A failure to fulfill this duty is negligence. Brooks v. Eugene Burger Management
The area of law is often known as “premises liability.” Premises liability refers to the legal liability of land owners to other people who have been injured on the owner’s property. CA premises liability is based on principles of negligence. Only an experienced slip and fall attorney will be able to go through the elements of negligence, apply them to your situation, and make an educated decision whether or not the law was broken.
Who is Responsible for Slip and Fall Accidents?
Who is responsible for slip and fall accidents? That would be the property owner where the accident occurred. This means that there are situations in which the homeowner, the owner of the business, the owner of the commercial property, or even the government may be held liable for the injuries suffered by a slip and fall victim.
But the victim’s lawyer must convince the jury that the property owner was negligent in their care for the property. Your lawyer must show:
- A condition on the property created an unreasonable risk of harm;
- The defendant knew or, through the exercise of reasonable care, should have known about it; and
- The defendant failed to repair the condition, protect against harm from the condition, or give adequate warning of the condition.
Slip and Fall Attorney Consultation
If you or a loved one were seriously injured from a slip and fall, and you believe the owner of the property is responsible, you should contact a slip and fall attorney to evaluate whether or not a lawsuit is a good option. Contact our San Diego personal injury lawyer office.
All consultations with our office are completely free. You will not be charged a penny to investigate whether or not you have a case. If the lawyer decides to represent you, he will get paid on a contingency fee. That means he will get paid a percentage of the recovery from a settlement or verdict. You do not pay for the attorney out of your pocket.
What Are Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents?
It is well established that CA law requires landowners to maintain land in their possession and control in a reasonably safe condition. The National Safety Council has created a list of common locations for a fall:
- Cluttered areas
- Areas with heavy traffic
- Uneven surfaces
- Wet areas or areas where spills are common
- Places without railings
- Unstable work areas
- Inadequately lit areas
If you are a property owner, pay special attention to these areas on your property to minimize your risk.
What Kind of Injuries Can Result from Fall Accidents?
Your injuries depend more on what is in the area in which you fall than the fall itself. Injuries that can be caused by the fall include:
- Sprained and strained ligaments, tendons, or muscles
- Torn ligaments, tendons, or muscles
- Broken bones
- Head trauma
- Spinal cord trauma
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the number of fatal falls, slips, and trips rose from 724 in 2013 to 793 in 2014. This is a 10% increase. California, alone, represented 72 of these fatal falls in 2014. To address the age range you probably expected the beginning of this page to be about, the Center for Disease Control states that each year, 2.5 million elderly people are treated in the emergency room due to fall injuries.
What Should I do if I Slip and Fall?
The first thing you should do if you slip and fall is seek appropriate medical attention. If you are unable to walk, are bleeding, or are have fallen to a place in which you cannot easily get back up, contact emergency personnel.
Once you are safe, take pictures of the area where the accident occurred and what contributed to the accident. These photos may dramatically help your slip and fall attorney assess your case. Unscrupulous landowners may try to “fix” the dangerous condition before your lawyer has a chance to investigate.
If you did not need to seek immediate medical attention, you should schedule a visit with your physician as soon as possible after the fall so that they may document any injuries you have appropriately. Be sure to tell your doctor about every ailment caused by the fall.
Finally, contact a slip and fall attorney as soon as possible so that they may instruct you on the next steps.
How Long Do You Have to File a Lawsuit?
The statute of limitations is two years per California Code of Civil Procedure § 335.1. If property is damaged from the fall, such as a watch or cell phone, California Code of Civil Procedure § 338 provides you with three years to file your lawsuit. But usually that is minor in comparison to serious personal injuries.
For this reason, it is vitally important for you to contact a slip and fall attorney and soon as possible. Waiting is dangerous and may cost you significant economic damages. Our office provides a game plan and hope for seriously injured people.
What is Comparative Fault?
The California Supreme Court adopted principles of “pure comparative fault.” What this means is that if you are injured and the jury decides that you contributed to the injury in part through actions you have made, your recovery may be reduced accordingly.
What does this mean? It could mean that if the dangerous condition was so obvious that a reasonable person would have noticed it, your compensation may be reduced to practically nothing. A more likely example would be if you were slightly careless and tripped on uneven pavement in your apartment complex. The jury may decide that, yes, the apartment complex was indeed negligent in taking care of the sidewalk, but your state of carelessness contributed 10% to the accident. Thus, if your injuries amounted to $10,000 worth of damages, your compensation will be reduced by $1,000, to $9,000.