Slip, Trip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents are quite common in Los Angeles. According to the LA Times, the Insurance Information Institute says there are nearly 3 million falls each year, which includes 14,000 fatalities and 4,000 ground-level slips. These incidents occur in malls, grocery stores, private homes, sports arenas, colleges, gas stations, office buildings, hotels, parking garages, swimming pool areas and potentially anywhere people go.

Slip and Fall Injury Information

Slip and fall injuries occur because of negligence under a variety of circumstances. Read more about injuries that occur in pubic and commercial spaces such as:

Apartment complexes

Liability surrounding apartment complex slip and fall accidents can be complicated. If the incident happened in a “common” area – such as the hallway or stairs –the landlord, property manager or building owner may be held accountable for any ensuing injuries. Whether the fall occurred in your own apartment building or that of a friend’s, victims must establish negligence to win a case. If there was a defective or dangerous condition, such as a broken stair tread, that the property manager knew about but failed to address, this may provide grounds for a viable claim.

Malls and shopping centers

Who is responsible for shopping mall slip and fall injuries?  Liability for shoddy maintenance or gross negligence may fall on several entities, depending on where and how the incident occurred. Malfunctioning escalators, spilled food or liquids, poor lighting and uneven floors are just some of the risks that consumers face in indoor and outdoor shopping centers. A qualified attorney can ensure that thorough investigations uncover the truth of the matter. If a duty of care was breached, victims may be entitled to significant reparations. In situations where management or third party contractors failed to repair hazardous conditions, place warning signs where needed, or generally ensure the premises were safe for visitors, a claim for damages may be warranted.

Nursing homes

Nursing home falls claim thousands of lives each year and leave hundreds more with serious and life-threatening injuries. Many elderly victims who fall in assisted living facilities succumb to hip fractures, head wounds and concussions. While decreased mobility, balance problems and loss of coordination can make seniors more prone to such accidents, nursing home owners and staff have a responsibility to keep their residents safe.  When evidence shows that employee negligence – whether willful or accidental– was to blame for a resident’s fall – the courts provide remedies for compensation. Poorly trained workers, understaffing or careless behavior such as forgetting to engage safety rails on a bed can have devastating consequences for frail residents who are already vulnerable to falls.

Office buildings

Private and commercial office buildings are a common site for slip and fall injuries. Temporary staffers, visitors and regular employees have a right to demand justice when an accident was foreseeable and preventable. Slick bathroom floors, broken tiles, slippery stairs, uneven pavement in parking lots, and other dangerous obstacles can result in broken bones, torn ligaments, sprains, lacerations and even traumatic brain injury. Even in office building falls where the victim is found partially responsible, they can still recovery damages with the guidance of a skilled lawyer.

Parking lots

Parking lot falls make up a significant portion of premises liability claims in California. Potential hazards including potholes, inadequate lighting, broken gratings, missing paver stones, debris and irregular flooring surfaces (sand, gravel or mulch) should be fixed in a reasonable amount of time, lest the property owner or manager face the prospect of legal action. Those who do not repair damage as soon as possible, ensure the premises is regularly inspected and maintained, or post warning signs or barriers as needed may be held liable for medical bills, lost wages and other damages.

Public roads

Municipalities have a legal duty to keep their roads and sidewalks in a reasonable state of repair. If you slip, trip and fall on a public road that was negligently maintained, you have a right to sue for damages. However, California – like all states—has strict deadlines for filing a notice and claim against a government entity. There may also be limits on the amount of compensation allowed in such injury claims. In order to meet California’s notification requirements, speak to an attorney as soon as possible after injuring yourself on a public road.

Stairs

Falling down a flight of stairs is no laughing matter. Injuries are often treacherous in stairway fall accidents, involving hospitalization, surgery and extended medical care. Broken treads, loose railings, polished surfaces and old, dilapidated materials are often the culprits in such accidents. Were the stairs up to code for Los Angeles? Was their loose carpeting or other obstacles that contributed to your fall? There are many factors that will determine fault in stairway fall injuries, which are best explored by a seasoned premises liability attorney.

Sidewalk accidents

Often, California city officials are held liable for damaged sidewalk that results in trip and fall accidents. In 2014, the city of Glendale paid an elderly couple $30,000 for injuries sustained tripping over raised pavement. The husband dislocated his pinky finger and damaged his back, and the wife injured her rotator cuff, in addition to sustaining bruises to her knees and elbows.

In another case from 2012, the city of Glendale paid a man $125,000 after he fell over a raised sidewalk, permanently injuring his left eye. These are just a few examples of cases where individuals were awarded compensation for preventable injuries due to property negligence.

Premises liability law

Slip, trip and fall accidents fall under a category of negligence law known as premises liability law, which holds property owners accountable for failing to safely maintain their premises. The Insurance Information Institute recommends that all property owners take steps to minimize their risk of being sued for slip and fall accidents, including:

  • Ensuring all hallways, stairwells, parking lots and service areas are well-lit
  • Clearly marking, lighting and removing obstacles from exits
  • Building stair treads of uniform height and width with handrails, steps and landings in good condition
  • Keeping neat storage areas
  • Laying down smooth and tight carpeting
  • Clearly marking any changes in floor level and keeping walkways in good condition
  • Addressing all spills immediately
  • Cleaning and flattening slip-resistant door mats, especially in bad weather
  • Repairing potholes, cracks and uneven surfaces in parking lots
  • Removing snow and ice from parking lots
  • Adequately lighting outdoor areas

Determining liability in trip, slip and fall accidents

In order to prevail in a slip and fall or trip and fall injury, negligence must be established on the part of the property owner.

California law looks at three things in particular:

  1. Was the cause of the accident not obvious to the victim and preventable?
  2. Was the dangerous condition under the control of the property owner?
  3. Did the property owner know of a dangerous condition but fail to take action?

Other questions worthy of examination include:

  • Did you fall over a defective area of carpet, floor or ground that had been there a while?
  • Were regular cleaning, maintenance and repair procedures in place?
  • If you tripped over an object, was there a legitimate reason for it to be there?
  • Could the area have been clearly marked to warn of danger or altered to remove the hazard?
  • Did poor lighting contribute to the accident?

Duty of Care

The duty of care as applied to California slip and fall cases holds that property owners and managers have an obligation to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition. This duty is owed to any person who is legally on the premises, such as invited guests, patrons or customers. This duty of care does not extend to trespassers or those who are unlawfully on the property. In most courts, a successful claim will hinge on the plaintiff’s status on the premises and if the owner or landlord exercised a level of care of an ordinarily prudent adult to prevent a slip and fall injury.

A defendant, or defendants, must be found negligent by the court to be held liable for slip and fall injury damages.

Elements of Negligence

There are five elements of negligence that the plaintiff must prove to win a lawsuit:

  • Duty – The property owner owed a duty of care to the plaintiff under the circumstances
  • Breach of Duty – The defendant’s actions or lack of action breached this duty of care
  • Causation – The defendant’s actions, whether intentional or not, were the cause of the plaintiff’s slip and fall injuries
  • Proximate Cause –A defendant is only liable for harms they could have reasonably foreseen through their own actions
  • Damages – The plaintiff suffered physical injury that resulted in actual monetary damages

An experienced slip and fall lawyer in Los Angeles will be able to uncover elements of negligence in your accident, whether you were hurt in a supermarket, in the stairwell of your apartment building, at a hotel pool, on government property, or anywhere else.

Even if your own carelessness was partly to blame, you may still be entitled to some compensation. Most cases result in a satisfactory out-of-court settlement with the property owners and/or their insurance companies. If a negotiated slip and fall settlement cannot be attained, your attorney will pursue a court award by trial.

Common slip and fall injuries that merit litigation

”Slip and fall” injuries from insufficient friction between the bottom of one’s shoes and an oily, greasy, muddy, icy or otherwise slick floor surface may include:

  • Wrist sprains or fractures as the victim tumbles backward and tries to break the fall with the hands
  • Contusions, lesions or fractures to the pelvis, back, spine, head or elbows

“Trip and fall” injuries from stumbling on protruding objects, bunched up carpeting, hidden electrical or phone wires, other hidden objects or uneven surfaces may include:

  • Fractures or sprains to the hand, wrist, arm, head, leg, ankle, or pelvis from a forward fall
  • Facial and skull injuries, including damaged teeth, nose, cheeks and forehead

In the worst cases, family members of a deceased victim can file a wrongful death claim.

Compensation available in slip & fall cases

The Salamati Law Firm helps slip and fall accident victims obtain the compensation they deserve for their injuries.

Damages may include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of income
  • Home modifications to account for disability
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium or companionship
  • Funeral expenses
  • Punitive damages

Free legal consultation

Injured on someone else’s property? Find next steps in our guide: What To Do After a Slip and Fall Accident. Call 800-888-259-4060 for a free, no-obligation consultation today. Experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorneys review your case for free. We serve all of California, providing aggressive representation to get you maximum compensation for your slip and fall injuries.  Se habla español.

Slip and Fall Litigation Resources:

  1. Insurance Information Institute – Controlling Liability Risks http://www.iii.org/publications/insuring-your-business-small-business-owners-guide-to-insurance/risk-management/controlling-liability-risks
  2. LA Times – City settles slip-and-fall case for $30K http://www.latimes.com/tn-gnp-city-settles-slipandfall-case-for-30k-20140125-story.html
  3. LA Times – City reaches $125K settlement with man who fell on sidewalk http://www.latimes.com/tn-gnp-0303-city-reaches-125k-settlement-with-man-who-fell-on-sidewalk-story.html