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What is a Slip and Fall accident?
Slip & fall or trip & fall injuries are extremely common. Property owners and/or possessors have a responsibility to safely maintain, inspect and oversee their premises. In order to successfully establish that an owner and/or possessor of a property is negligent, it must be shown that the owner/possessor either created a dangerous condition, knew of the dangerous condition and did not act to fix the problem, or should have known of the dangerous condition and did not act to fix the problem.
Examples of dangerous conditions that cause people to slip & fall, trip & fall or simply fall include, but are not limited to, the following: liquid material on the floor/ground that has not been cleaned and/or inspected within a reasonable period of time, exposed sinkholes, uneven and cracked sidewalks, slippery stairways and walkways, and improperly secured windows and balconies.
Damages recoverable from slip and fall accidents
Compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, future expenses and wage loss during recovery time is payable to slip & fall and trip & fall victims if negligence can be proven. In order to prove negligence, a victim is best aided by having an experienced personal injury attorney from the Law Offices of Steers & Associates oversee the various types of investigations necessary to substantiate claims; an attorney that knows the details and applications of the law, who can aggressively deal with the insurance companies whose primary interest is to make little or no payment to the victim.
Choosing a Los Angeles Slip and Fall Attorney
At the Law Offices of Steers & Associates, our Los Angeles slip and fall attorneys work unremittingly to assess the circumstances of each of our clients’ claims, to ensure we can provide them with the best financial settlement possible by pursuing the negligent party who caused their injuries. Slip and fall claims are no accident. When someone carelessly avoids providing a safe environment for others, it is considered a dereliction of responsibility in the court of law.
In-Depth Client Support Services
- Thorough factual analysis during initial (free) consultation with clients.
- Obtain investigative reports when appropriate.
- Law firm’s investigators will obtain witness statements when necessary.
- Inspect scene of accident if necessary.
- Fast response to clients’ questions.
- Consult and/or retain expert witnesses when appropriate.
- Monitor medical treatment to ensure clients are satisfied with their care.
- Prompt preparation of demand for compensation once medical treatment is finished.
- Assistance in resolving clients’ medical bills including any lien issues.
- Aggressive and thorough representation in the event a lawsuit has to be filed.
Our dedicated approach to presenting a legal strategy for success is paramount, giving our slip and fall lawyers in Los Angeles an advantage in the courtroom. The experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Steers & Associates combine professionalism with dexterity, which allows us to counter the property owners’ private attorney or the insurance company’s attorneys strategies.
The slip and fall attorneys that practice in our firm deliver a dedicated approach to justice for our clients. We realize that confronting a property owner’s insurance company can be intimidating, as can the overall legal process that accompanies the claim. Our lawyers have exceptional experience in battling large firms and their lawyers, and we never back down from a challenge in the courtroom. No matter where your slip and fall injury took place, whether it was in a privately owned business, a large retail outlet or a municipally owned building, we are prepared to conquer the opposition and provide our clients with the financial restitution they deserve.
Notable Slip & Fall/Premises Liability Cases
- Kmart Slip and Fall AccidentOne interesting case involved a woman who was shopping at a Kmart and a Kmart employee accidentally knocked over a shelf near the client’s leg area which caused her to fall. We filed a lawsuit and were able to get her a good recovery after investigating the facts of the case and engaging in an aggressive litigation strategy by using the right kind of experts. We were able to get her a good recovery because we were able to show that the employee of the store should have acted in a safer manner.
- Premises Liability and Inadequate Security at a restaurantAnother example is a premises liability case where we filed a lawsuit for our injured client because of inadequate security. The client was at a birthday party at night at a restaurant and it was known that people drank a lot at that restaurant. Our client was just outside of the restaurant, and at some point another person that was in the restaurant stabbed him in the chest.We named several defendants in that lawsuit, including the restaurant and the owner of the property that the restaurant was leasing from. It turned out the restaurant had no insurance, so that was bad, but the property owner did have high insurance limits. We were able to obtain a copy of the lease between the property owner and the restaurant. The lease required the restaurant to provide security for its guests and it didn’t do so. The litigation revealed that the property owner didn’t enforce the terms of the lease.When we took a deposition of the person most knowledgeable of the property owner, we asked about what the terms of the lease requiring security, and about safety issues and procedures. The person most knowledgeable didn’t know how to answer most of the questions. She didn’t know much about anything, which was good because if the case had gone to trial it would have left the property owner defendant stuck with the answers of their representative.
Slip & Fall Case Statute of Limitations
Generally speaking, in California, there is a two year statute of limitations to file a lawsuit for personal injuries, so two years from the date of the fall or incident, basically. If it’s a claim against a public entity or governmental entity then there are different rules that apply, because then you have to make a written claim to the governmental or public entity within six months of the fall. You need to wait forty-five days for them to respond and either accept or reject the claim. If they reject the claim, then you have six months after the rejection date to file a lawsuit.
If they don’t respond at all or if they accept, then the person has still up to two years from the date of the fall to file a lawsuit. Usually if a governmental or public entity is involved we try to err on the side of caution. If the claim is against a regular defendant like a store owner or private property owner or non-governmental agent, then it’s just two years from the date of the incident or fall.
What Should You Do If You Are Injured In A Slip and Fall Accident?
If a person slips and falls or trips and falls, they should try to get the contact information of any witnesses. Often times at stores, a store manager or employee will have to file an incident report, so if at all possible, the injured person should try to get a copy of the incident report. It’s very important to take pictures if possible of what the person fell on, because if they don’t know what they fell on, that makes the case a lot tougher.
We understand it’s hard sometimes to do, if the person’s in pain. Hopefully someone can assist them and then take photos. Now with cell phones it’s easier. Someone who slipped and fell or tripped and fell should preserve the shoes or footwear that they were wearing at the time of the fall. Also receipts of any items purchased at the store before the fall should be saved if applicable.
It is also very important for the injured person to seek out appropriate medical care as soon as possible.
Last but definitely not least, the injured person should seek the advice of a qualified attorney if they think that they fell because of an unsafe condition on the property or premises.
Slip/Trip and Fall Injury FAQs
How long does a typical slip and fall case last?
It can last a year or two years. Right now, for example, in Los Angeles Superior Court, the trial date is set around eighteen months after the lawsuit is filed. How quickly a case settles or if a case settles at all depends on the facts specific to that case, including how strong or weak liability is against the defendant(s) and the nature and extent of the plaintiff’s injuries.
What should a client bring for their initial consultation?
For a slip and fall or premises liability cases we try to gather as many facts and items as possible. What did they fall on, if they know? Do they have a photograph of what they fell on? How long were they at the location before they fell? What were they doing at the location before they fell? Are there any witnesses and if so, what is their contact information? What was said to them by the witnesses? What did the witnesses see or know? Did they keep a copy of the accident report form that was given to them to be filled out? What kind of shoes/footwear where they wearing? What are their injuries?
A lot goes into that, because the reality of slip and fall and premises liability cases is as attorneys we have to make a business judgment or decision sometimes. We get paid on a contingency basis, meaning we don’t get paid upfront attorney fees. We only get paid in a personal injury case if there’s a recovery; we get a percentage of that recovery. So if a person has a slip and fall case but they don’t have major injuries, a lot of times it’s tough because of the costs involved in these kinds of cases.
In these kinds of cases you usually have to hire expert witnesses and do a lot of work on the case. If the person is not seriously injured, the recovery could be pretty eaten up by the cost of the experts and other litigation costs. So that’s why we have to be pretty selective in accepting slip and fall and premises liability cases. Of course, there may be liability issues as well in slip and fall cases. You have to prove that the defendant is at fault for the fall. Just because you fall somewhere doesn’t mean automatically that the defendant is responsible. That is a common misconception. You have to prove that. There are different ways to prove it, but that can be challenging sometimes. It depends on the facts of what happened in the case involved.
Who Pays for Medical Care in Slip & Fall Accidents?
If you’re injured in a slip and fall incident, then you are entitled to be reimbursed for your reasonable and necessary medical expenses that you incurred due to the fall, assuming that you can prove that the defendant(s) were responsible for the fall. Of course proving that the property owner, store, management company or whoever is responsible can be tricky in slip and fall cases which is why we strongly recommend that the injured person speak to an attorney as soon as possible after they are injured.
Are landloards liable for injuries if injuries are sustained on a landlord’s property?
Yes, landlords can be liable. A property owner has to keep their property in a safe condition. So, if someone’s injured on their property because of a dangerous condition that a landlord or owner of the property should have known about or knew about and didn’t fix, then they could be responsible or liable.
If someone is injured at an apartment and they’re injured in the area controlled by the landlord, like the common areas, the landlord or property owner could be held responsible. If the person’s injured inside of an apartment unit and it’s nothing the landlord or owner did – maybe the renter created a dangerous condition inside their own apartment unit – then possibly the tenant or renter could be held responsible. Sometimes they’ll have renters insurance. So, that’s something to think about.
What are some of the more common misconceptions that people have about slip and fall cases?
One common misconception is that if someone falls on something, the owner or operator is automatically responsible for their injuries and damages. However, legally that’s not necessarily the case. The person suing or making a claim has to prove that the store, store operator, or property owner either created the dangerous condition or they had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition.
If you can show that what the person fell on was a dangerous condition created by the owner or operator of the premises, then that’s one way to establish fault or liability.
So, for example, if a store owner or property owner leaves some physical item out on the floor and it’s hard to see it, but it creates a tripping hazard, an expert could help establish that a person reasonably would not have been expected to see the item on the ground where they were walking.
Another way is if you can show actual notice on the part of the defendant – the store or the property owner. Let’s say that something spilled on the ground and it can be proven that the store employees or the owner knew that there was something on the ground that was slippery and they didn’t do anything about it. Sometime later someone walks by and falls on that. That’s an example of actual notice. That’s pretty rare though. It’s very rare for a company or person being sued to say, “Yeah, I knew about it, but I didn’t do anything. I didn’t clean it up.”
The third example of how to prove fault in these kinds of cases is constructive notice. For example, when we represent clients in slip and fall cases, we will demand production of the store sweep sheets and video footage. Sweep sheets help show how often store personnel were inspecting and maintaining the area where the person fell. If we get those records and it shows that the area of the fall wasn’t inspected for an hour or two hours before the fall, that’s a good indication that the store wasn’t properly maintaining or inspecting the area of the fall.
But if the records indicate that the area of the fall was inspected a few minutes before the fall, then it becomes a much tougher case because the owner/operator of the premises can make a better argument that they were acting reasonably in maintaining and inspecting the area.
These are just some examples of how to prove fault in slip and fall, trip and fall type cases and some issues that sometimes come up, depending on the facts.
Are they handled any differently than like, let’s say if it was at a store?
Not really, as far as the analysis. You want to still get photographs and hire an expert to try and analyze whether or not there was anything that created that dangerous condition. You need to still try to get information from whoever’s being sued as far as how often they inspected the area and all that.
Would I have to be worried, let’s say, if I was a homeowner and someone slipped and fell there. Would I have to be worried about being sued or anything like that?
If you’re a homeowner, hopefully you have homeowners insurance. That way if someone is injured while visiting your home or while in your backyard or garage, if you have homeowner’s insurance at least you have that insurance to cover up to a certain amount of monetary damages. We recommend that tenants have renters insurance to protect their own personal belongings as well as to protect against possible liability.
There is also something called social host immunity in California, where you generally can’t be liable if you serve drinks at your own home or have a party in your own home and then the guest leaves and injures somebody else. But if you’re charging for drinks, for example, there could potentially be liability.
Shouldn’t I just save myself money that I pay in attorney fees and go through the insurance company to get paid for a slip and fall accident?
You can go ask insurance companies for money, but for slip and fall cases most insurance companies aren’t really rushing out to offer money until a lawsuit is filed. So there are a lot of things involved in such a case. You’re probably going to want an attorney because if you’re not a licensed attorney, it’s very difficult to get compensation on a slip and fall case or most other cases for that matter.
Can older people and children sue for slip and fall accidents?
Some elderly clients experience balance problems or weakened bones. So, if an older person falls then it’s a greater risk of injuries in many cases because they may have osteoporosis or bone problems or decreased strength in their bone structure, etc. You have to watch for that in those kinds of cases.
As far as children go, children generally are pretty resilient, but sometimes their parents are concerned if they’re injured. If they break any bones or if they’ve been injured they want to make sure they heal properly as they continue to grow into adulthood.
What is the most typical injury that someone may have in a slip and fall? Is it something major that they’re going to require surgery for or something else?
Really it runs the whole spectrum. we have a case right now where a woman needs lower back surgery. Some people have had knee surgery, ankle surgery, broken limbs, torn ligaments, and other serious injuries. In other cases, the injuries may not be as great.
What about slip and fall injuries that may end up resulting in permanent damage?
When there are permanent injuries, then we try to obtain for the injured person compensation not only for their medical expenses and pain and suffering, but also compensation for lost earnings, both after the fall and into the future if they can’t go back to work. But to get money for lost earnings you have to show certain things. You have to show what you were earning before you were injured and what the expected earnings would be.
If there’s a claim for lost earnings and/or loss of future earning capacity, then we would typically want to hire certain experts in that case, like an economist and possibly a vocational rehabilitation expert if the person cannot go back to work or if they cannot resume their past occupation due to their injuries.
What is Comparative Fault in Slip & Fall Accidents?
Comparative fault means that any recovery that the injured person is entitled to can be reduced by whatever percentage they contributed to their injuries (ranging from 0 to 100 percent).
So let’s say a case goes to trial. It’s a slip and fall case and the jury decides to award a plaintiff a hundred thousand dollars, but they also determine that the plaintiff contributed twenty percent to the fall. So the hundred thousand dollar award would be reduced by twenty percent or twenty thousand dollars, leaving eighty thousand dollars as an award or recovery to the plaintiff.
Actually, these kinds of comparative fault issues are very common in slip and fall cases and premises liability cases, because a lot of times the defendant tries to argue that the injured person was not watching where they were going.
Which areas of California are covered?
We represent slip and fall clients anywhere in California. That said, many of our clients are here in Los Angeles or the nearby cities of Beverly Hills, Pasadena, Glendale, Burbank, Alhambra, Whittier, Encino, Hollywood, Moreno Valley, Huntington Beach, Garden Grove, Fontana, Baldwin Park, Long Beach, Riverside, San Bernardino, Corona, Santa Ana, Valencia and around Southern California.
A recent review:
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ I was in an accident where my car was totaled. At first, I thought I could handle things by myself but then my pain began to get much worse. I hired Allen based on the recommendation of a friend and he did not disappoint. He was very fast in answering my calls and emails. He also got me the maximum settlement from the other person’s insurance and then got me compensation from my insurance too. – James