Examples of Slip & Fall Hazards
Some of the conditions that can lead to slip & fall accident injuries include:
- Spills and wet floors
- Plumbing leaks
- Loose carpeting
- Uneven floors
- Uncovered cords and cables
- Broken or missing railings
- Broken furniture
- Failure to put up warning signs or rope off hazardous areas
Common Injuries in Slip & Fall Accidents
Rewards for slip & fall injuries total more than $50 billion nationwide annually. When you slip, you normally fall backward, exposing your head to traumatic brain injuries, which are among the most dangerous of all injuries from falls. Other injuries include:
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Shoulder and neck injuries
- Broken bones
- Hip fractures
- Wrist, arm, and ankle injuries
- Cuts and abrasions
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
To file and prove a claim for personal injury, the operative word is “negligence.” The Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions state: “The elements of a negligence claim and a premises liability claim are the same: a legal duty of care, breach of that duty, and proximate cause resulting in injury.”
Thus, if you’re injured in a slip & fall incident on someone else’s premises, and you file a personal injury lawsuit, you must show that:
- The property is owned or possessed by the defendant you are suing
- The defendant was negligent — failed to exercise a reasonable duty of care
- You, the plaintiff, were harmed due to this negligence
- The negligence was a substantial factor in the injury for which you are seeking damages
Under California law, negligence can be proven by merely showing that a “reasonable person” should have known about the hazard or condition that resulted in the injury.
In some cases, more than just the controller of the property may be liable. Depending on the circumstances, employees, event sponsors, equipment manufacturers, maintenance companies and their personnel, and many others may also be held liable.
Statute of Limitations & Workers' Comp
Note that in California, you must file a personal injury lawsuit within two years of the date of your injury. If you are injured on government property, even on an ill-repaired sidewalk, you must file a claim within six months. Note also that you can’t wait two years to file a claim against the property holder’s insurance company. That must be initiated as quickly as possible.
Remember as well that, if you’re injured as an employee while at work, a workers’ compensation claim is the route you must take. In some instances in which the injury is caused by a third party, such as a manufacturer of a malfunctioning piece of equipment, there may be potential for a lawsuit.
California’s Comparative Negligence Rule
When filing a claim with an insurance company for a slip & fall injury, or going to court for a personal injury claim, both the insurance adjusters and the judge and jury will employ what is called the pure comparative negligence standard employed in California. This means that you, as well as the property holder you deem to be negligent, will be assigned a percentage of the fault.
For instance, if you ignored a warning sign and then proceeded anyway to walk on a wet floor and were injured, you could be assigned 40% of the blame (or more or less). If the compensation for your losses totals $100,000, you would receive only 60% of that amount ($60,000) after deducting 40% for your part in the accident.
Unlike other states that use a modified version of comparative negligence, you can still recover compensation if you are 99% at fault, though that likely wouldn’t be worth the effort.
Trust an Experienced Attorney
Most businesses and property owners and lessees carry liability insurance to cover on-site injuries from slips and falls and other accidents. Insurance companies, however, will compensate only for medical expenses and lost time from work, and then often only up to a specified monetary cap. They will also do everything in their power to pin the blame on you as much as possible to lower or cancel their liability. Don’t deal with them yourself. Let an attorney handle negotiations with the insurers and their claim adjusters.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit opens up even more avenues for proper compensation. In a court of law, you can receive compensation not only for economic damages (expenses and lost wages) but also for non-economic damages such as personal pain and suffering.
If you’ve been injured in a slip & fall accident that is not covered by workers’ compensation, you need to contact an attorney immediately. Even if it is an employment-based accident, you still may want to contact a lawyer for help.