Human error is a natural part of life. Accidents happen, and in some instances, an individual can suffer pain, suffering, loss of wages, and/or costly medical expenses as a result of someone else’s negligence. In these cases, the victim may be eligible for compensation.
Slip-and-fall accidents, also known as slip, trip or fall accidents, are a very common type of personal injury claim. They occur when someone injures themselves on another person's property (such as a restaurant, store, or office) due to a property or business owner's negligence.
Common causes of slip-and-fall accidents include (but aren’t limited to):
- Uneven carpeting
- Slick floors
- Exposed cables
- Uneven or missing steps
- Damaged handrails
- Dimly lit spaces
To recover damages for a slip-and-fall incident, the claimant must prove that the defendant is liable for the accident. Keep reading to learn more about which steps to take after a slip-and-fall accident in California.
Premises Liability Laws in California
Filing a personal injury claim after a slip-and-fall accident is considered a premises liability lawsuit. Under California Civil Code §1714(a), premises liability laws impose a “duty of care” on business and property owners to keep premises as safe as possible for patrons, guests, and visitors by:
- Maintaining the property
- Regularly inspecting the property
- Warning guests of potential hazards
- Repairing potentially dangerous conditions
If the owner of the premises fails to keep the property reasonably safe for guests, they can be liable for injuries sustained on the property. In these cases, the owner may be ordered to pay for the victim’s:
- Medical bills
- Physical therapy
- Loss of earnings
- Continued medical care
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced employability
California Statute of Limitations for Slip-and-Fall Injuries
It’s crucial for victims to understand that there is a time limit (“statute of limitations”) to file a personal injury claim after a slip-and-fall accident. Under California Civil Code §335.1, plaintiffs must file the claim within 2 years of the incident.
Comparative Negligence in California
Each state has its own set of laws and regulations when it comes to proving negligence in a slip-and-fall case. California is one of few U.S. states that honors a pure comparative negligence rule, meaning that a victim may be eligible to collect compensation after a slip-and-fall accident regardless of how much fault they bear.
In other words, premises liability in California is not “all or nothing;” rather, compensation can be awarded accordingly depending on the percentage of fault assigned to each party. For example, assuming there is evidence of negligence on part of the defendant, a plaintiff who is 90% at fault for an accident may still be awarded 10% of the compensation.
Proving Liability in a Slip-and-Fall Case
Under state law, California business or property owners who breach their duty to “exercise ordinary care or skill in the management of their property” constitutes negligence.
To successfully recover compensation after a slip-and-fall accident, the victim (“plaintiff”) must prove that the property owner (“defendant”) was liable for the accident and thus the injuries sustained.
In other words, plaintiffs must prove to the court that their suffering was a direct result of the owner’s negligence. To accomplish this, claimants must prove that 1) the owner breached their duty of care to keep patrons reasonably safe from harm; and 2) the breach resulted in the slip-and-fall accident and corresponding injuries.
It’s also worth noting that the burden of proof in a slip-and-fall lawsuit lies with the plaintiff, meaning that it isn’t the defendant’s responsibility to prove their innocence; rather, it’s up to the claimant to show that the injury sustained in the accident was caused by the defendant’s negligence.
Generally, a plaintiff must establish that the following things are true to prove negligence on part of the defendant:
- A condition on the property created an unreasonable risk of harm;
- The defendant was aware of this risk; and
- The defendant failed to repair, protect against, and/or notify patrons of the hazardous condition.
It’s always best to consult with a trusted personal injury attorney who can strengthen your case with sufficient evidence and determine the most effective legal strategy to obtain the result you desire in court. Common forms of evidence in a slip-and-fall case include:
- Medical reports
- Notes from a clinic or physician
- Surveillance footage taken on or near the premises
- Any photos or videos related to the accident
- Witness testimonies
Standing Up for the Injured in California
Our passionate team at Alvandi Law Group has extensive experience advocating for the rights of the injured in California. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, it’s crucial to take swift action to secure the compensation you rightfully deserve.
Our dedicated personal injury attorneys can help strengthen your case and maximize your chance of success in court. We understand how daunting it can be to initiate a personal injury lawsuit, especially if it requires going up against a larger corporation or company with more funds and resources.
With over 75 years of combined legal experience, our firm is well-equipped to represent clients throughout Los Angeles and Orange County in a range of personal injury disputes. Our highly skilled legal advocates have recovered over $300 million for injured Californians. No one should have to pay the price for someone else’s carelessness. Act now to take the first step toward achieving the compensation you deserve.
If you’ve been injured in California, you deserve reliable representation. Call (800) 980-6905 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Orange County personal injury lawyer.