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Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere. You might be crossing the lobby of an upmarket Los Angeles hotel, stumbling over an uneven parking lot in the San Francisco fog, or visiting an old friend in San Diego. Whenever someone injures themselves after a slip or trip on someone else’s property, there is the possibility of claiming compensation for damages.
The law on slip and fall accidents in California explains how a court decides who is liable for the accident, and what happens if a victim’s own actions contribute to their injuries. Most importantly, it also makes clear how a victim can pursue compensation when they have a valid slip and fall case.
A slip and fall accident is a personal injury case involving a person who slips, falls and injures themselves on someone else’s property. When a person is injured in a California slip and fall accident, it is important to establish who is at fault for the injury. A court will consider whether the owner of the property where the accident happened has been negligent. This means looking at whether the property owner has failed in the duty of care they owe people on their premises.
The victim must show that there was a dangerous condition that the property owner, or an employee of theirs, either:
A court will consider whether the property owner could reasonably have known about the danger, and what actions they could reasonably have taken to minimize any foreseeable harm.
A property owner might have reduced or no liability if a victim has contributed to their own slip and fall injury by, for example, ignoring prominently displayed warning signs, or failing to see a danger that would have been obvious to a reasonable person. California law expects individuals to take a reasonable degree of care for their own safety.
A property owner will still be liable if they should have expected the damages suffered, despite the danger being obvious. They could also be liable if the danger was in violation of a Californian or federal law on health and safety.
In California, the statute of limitations for filing a slip and fall accident case is within two years of the incident. While you must be file a case within the timeframe, many attorneys will advise clients to wait for a reasonable time so that the full impact of their injuries has become evident.
A majority of California slip and fall cases will not go to trial. Instead, a settlement will often be reached after negotiation between the victim or their attorney, and the property owner’s insurance company. This will involve an original demand letter outlining the claim, followed by counter-offers explaining the different parties’ positions. If a settlement is reached, it will mean the victim gives up their ability to take the case to court.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified slip and fall lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local slip and fall attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.