A slip and fall accident can turn a fun social gathering or a quick trip to a store into an unplanned trip to the emergency room. In fact, over nine million Americans are treated in emergency rooms for fall-related injuries every year, according to the National Safety Council (NSC).
After a slip and fall accident, a victim may find themselves with substantial medical bills, lost income from missed work, pain and suffering, and more. California law requires that property owners keep their premises safe and free from dangerous or hazardous conditions. If a property owner fails in their duty to warn of an unsafe condition or fails to correct an unsafe condition, they may have a legal responsibility to compensate a victim for their injuries and losses. If your slip and fall accident was the direct result of a property owner’s negligence, a Downey slip and fall lawyer with Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you understand your legal rights. Contact us today at (800) 223-5115 for a free case review.
Slip and Fall Accidents on Business or Commercial Properties
Any business owner or commercial property owner has a legal responsibility to ensure that their property remains in safe condition for visitors or customers. Property owners should conduct regular inspections to ensure that their property is always safe for patrons and anyone else involved in business there. While certain instances may occur where a customer spills something on the floor which causes another customer to immediately fall, in most cases, a business owner or commercial property owner should know about spills and other hazards. These may include faulty handrails on staircases, rotted stairs or balconies, poor lighting, potholes or crumbling sidewalks, or their own failure to remove snow or ice from parking lots or common walkways.
Some types of business or commercial properties where slip and fall accidents frequently occur include:
- Hotels and motels
- Restaurants and bars
- Retail shopping establishments (such as grocery stores, department stores, and indoor/outdoor mall areas)
- Recreation centers or playgrounds
- Banquet halls
- Office buildings
- Apartment buildings
Business owners and commercial property owners often have substantial policies with insurance companies, yet these companies will likely try to avoid paying a victim full compensation for their injuries and losses. If you suffered a slip and fall accident in one of these types of places, there is a strong possibility that certain evidence (such as video footage or other physical evidence) may disappear prior to a full investigation.
A Downey slip and fall lawyer with Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help begin an immediate investigation of your slip and fall accident to preserve the evidence necessary to prove liability and responsibility. Contact our team today to get started.
Slip and Fall Accidents on Private Properties
Private homeowners and landowners also have a legal responsibility to ensure that their premises remain safe for anyone who has a legal right to be on the property. Homeowners must tell their guests if there are any risks or dangers on their property and/or make every effort to repair or clean any unsafe conditions on their property. Failure to do so can be considered negligence under the law, and the homeowner or property owner will likely have a responsibility to compensate the victim for any injuries or losses suffered as a result of their slip and fall accident. In the state of California, licensees (social guests) and even trespassers also have the right to notification of dangers on a property, based on the 1970 court case Beard v. Atchison.
Insurance Companies and Slip and Fall Accidents
Insurance companies often attempt to avoid paying appropriate compensation to victims by:
- Quickly making a low settlement offer before a full investigation occurs
- Having the victim accept some or all responsibility for the slip and fall accident
- Visiting with victims while they are still hospitalized or severely injured
- Recording conversations to use them at a later time against the victim
- Stalling or delaying the entire process in hopes that the victim will fail to meet the statute of limitations deadline
In the state of California, a victim only has two years from the date of the slip and fall accident to file a claim, according to the California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) §335.1. If this statute of limitations deadline is not met, the case will likely be dismissed automatically. Therefore, time is of the essence when negotiating with insurance companies.
Defenses for Slip and Fall Accidents
Many property owners will attempt to defend themselves after a slip and fall accident occurs on their property. Two common types of defenses are a knowledge-based defense or an open and obvious defense.
Many property owners will simply say they had no knowledge, had no reason to know, and/or could not have known about the hazardous condition on their property. They may argue that a slip and fall accident on spilled liquid happened too quickly for them to have any knowledge of the spill or clean the area. They may argue that their property is large, so they simply did not know that the dangerous condition existed. While this defense may work in some cases, a property owner does have a responsibility to ensure that their property remains safe under the law.
Open and Obvious Defense
Another defense often argued by property owners is that the hazard was so “open and obvious” that no reasonable person could have missed it—therefore, they did not need to warn guests or customers of the danger. This may include examples such as a large fountain in the middle of a courtyard or a frozen lake on the property.
Consult a Downey Slip and Fall Lawyer
If you suffered any injuries or losses as a result of a slip and fall injury, a Downey slip and fall lawyer can help you build a personal injury case and argue against the defenses that will likely be brought up by insurance companies and property owners.
To learn more, contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 223-5115 for a free consultation with a member of our team.