When thinking of premises liability, the following scenarios typically come to mind:
- A customer slips and falls at a grocery store due to slippery floors.
- A mailman falls on your property when delivering your mail.
- A pedestrian falls on the street due to a crack in the sidewalk.
Slip and fall accidents, as well as trip and fall accidents, are often the result of negligent supervision or maintenance of the premises and generally take place when a property owner or manager knew or should have known about the danger but failed to take the necessary action to alleviate the potential threat.
The vast majority of slips, trip, and falls can be avoided by employing effective safety measures. Unfortunately many property owners fail to institute known safety measures or simply ignore potential safety hazards. Under the law of premises liability, when you’ve been injured as a result of this negligence, you are entitled to certain types of compensation, such as past and future medical bills, lost wages and loss of earning potential and pain and suffering.
Premises liability is a legal concept that comes into play when a person is injured on another person’s property due to unsafe and hazardous conditions. The nature of the property could be residential or commercial.
The vast majority of premises liability injury claims are based on a negligence cause of action. There are several elements which need to be established to prove the existence of a negligent act:
1. The property owner owed the victims a duty of reasonable care.
2. The property owner breach his duty of care.
3. The breach of the duty of care resulting in an accident.
4. The accident caused physical harm.
Therefore, the first consideration is what duty was owed by the property owner to the injured victim.
A property owner has a general duty to make sure their property does not pose an unreasonable risk of harm to visitors. In California, defendants owe different plaintiffs varying duties of care. The standard of care is determined by the plaintiff’s status, which is largely determined by the reason that the plaintiff was on the defendant’s property. There are three categories of visitors: invitee, licensee, and trespasser.
An invitee is someone who is invited by the property owner and someone who comes to the owner’s property for a purpose that would be commercially beneficial to the owner. For example, a grocery store shopper is an invitee because the shopper will buy products and that would be commercially beneficial to the store. Courts have ruled that even if someone walks into a store not intending to buy products, they are still considered invitees because they could potentially see an item that they like and buy it. The law requires that a property owner takes reasonable measures to warn or otherwise protect invitees from unreasonably unsafe conditions on the property. In addition, many courts have held that property owners are to make reasonable inspections to make sure that no dangerous conditions exist on the property, that the invitee would not be able to openly see and avoid. For example, a grocery store would be required to make frequent inspections of the floors to make sure they are not wet, and post warning signs when the floors are wet to protect against accidents.
A licensee is someone who is invited by the property owner to enter the premises and someone who comes to the owner’s premises for non-commercial purposes. For example, a social guest is a licensee. The duty of care owed to a licensee is not as vigorous as that owed to an invitee. Typically, the law requires that the owner take measures to warn or fix any dangerous conditions that the licensee would not discover and appreciate. However, the duty attaches if and only if the property owner knew or should have known about the unsafe condition. For example, if an owner knows that the stair railings are broken, but the railings appear normal to a visitor, then the owner may be liable if a visitor tries to grab the railings and falls as a result of the defect.
A trespasser is someone who is on the owner’s property without the owner’s permission. If an owner is not aware of the trespasser’s presence, then there is no duty owed. The trespasser would not be able to successfully sue the owner for any mishaps that occurred because of a dangerous condition on the premises. If the owner knows of the trespasser’s presence, then the duty is to use ordinary care to protect against dangerous conditions.
Common Injuries Suffered by Victims
Statistics show slip and fall accidents as one of the leading causes of some of the most severe injuries. Such injuries can result in excruciating pain and life long suffering. Some of the most common injuries resulting such accidents include the following:
Property Owner Liability – California Premises Liability Laws
Under California premises liability laws, property owners and managers of commercial properties owe visitors who have the intent to conduct an economic transaction (ie shoppers) a heightened duty of care. A property owner has a duty to protect and or warn an invitee of all known and knowable dangers. Common dangers can include, wet or slippery floors, food and debris on the floor left for an unreasonable amount of time, loose carpeting resulting in trips. We have also seen cases of negligence by the city where the sidewalk concrete was damaged, resulting in a trip and fall. Our law firm can handle all trip and fall cases, even if the defendant is the government. If you are looking for the best trip and fall lawyer in Los Angeles, you have found the right law firm to represent you. We have a lot of cases in trip and fall and we know what it takes to win your case.
Winning Your Case in the Court of Law – What Needs to Be Proven: The vast majority of slip and fall injury claims are based on a negligence cause of action. There are several elements which need to be established to proved the existence of a negligent act.
Commercial and non-commercial facilities where such accidents are most common include shopping centers, government facilities, schools, restaurants, pubic parking facilities, train bus and subway stations, office buildings, supermarkets and convenient stores.
Average Settlement Value for a Slip and Fall Accident Case
If you are wondering about the value of your case, it is best to consult with a slip and fall lawyer to review your case. Every case comprises of a unique set of factors which play significant roles in determine an average case value. Some of the most important factors in determining the settlement amount in a personal injury lawsuit are as follows:
Do Not Wait – Civil Cases Must be Filed within A Certain Time Period:
In the state of California personal injury lawsuits must be filed within with a certain timeline established by the state Statute of Limitations laws. The statute of limitations for trip and fall injury cases must be filed within two years from the date of the accident. The failure to file a claim within the two year timeline will resulting in an elimination of your right to financial recovery vial legal means. However in some instances courts will grant a motion for tolling the statute of limitations with the intention of allowing victims to file the claim past its official deadline. Instance where courts have granted a tolling of a Statute of Limitations are as follows
Claim Against Government Owned Facilities: In the state of California slip and fall injury claims against state and federal government entities must be filed with the agency in questions within120 days (six months) from the date of the accident.
National Safety Council: http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/safety-at-home-falls.aspx
University of Stanford: https://web.stanford.edu/dept/EHS/prod/mainrencon/occhealth/slip_trip_fall_prevention.pdf
LA Times article about slip and fall cases: http://articles.latimes.com/1995-01-24/local/me-23650_1_public-storage
State of California: https://www.dir.ca.gov/chswc/WOSHTEP/Publications/slipsfalls.pdf
OSHA article: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/walkingworkingsurfaces/