Who Is Liable for Slip and Fall Injuries in Hospitals in California?

October 25, 2018 Premises Liability Lawsuits, Slip Trip and Fall

Hospitals are a place to visit for medical care and healing but they can also lead to injuries. Both patients

Group of doctors in a hurry down the hospital hallway for emergency

Hospitals are a place to visit for medical care and healing but they can also lead to injuries. Both patients and visitors can experience on-site injuries from slip and fall accidents. When this happens, the next logical question is, who is liable? For a few reasons, the answer is not completely straightforward.

Types of hospital slips and falls

From slick floors to liquid substances to medical carts that obstruct paths to unsecured carpet tiles to medication errors, there are many reasons a patient or visitor could fall in a hospital. Depending on the circumstances, the underlying reason could be general negligence or professional negligence, each carrying a different statute of limitations, limit of damages recoverable, and burden of proof.

Ordinary negligence slip and falls

A defendant may be liable in a premises liability claim when it knew of should have known of a hazard but failed to issue a warning or fix the hazard. The plaintiff bears the burden of proving that the defendant or his or her employees acted unreasonably.

A slip and fall victim has two years to file a personal injury lawsuit under an ordinary negligence theory. However, there could be a shorter notice period to meet before filing a claim if the fall occurred at a government-owned hospital.

Professional malpractice in California hospital claims

Many slips and falls in hospitals are the result of medical malpractice or other professional malpractice. For example, medication errors that impair a patient’s stability could be the result of medical malpractice. However, California authorities have deemed it professional negligence to fail to maintain any equipment necessary for treatment or care. This broadens the net of professional malpractice to many surfaces within a hospital.

California professional liability lawsuits must be filed within one year of discovery. Plaintiffs also need to hire an expert witness to prove the defendant did not meet the necessary standard of care for a professional in that industry. Further, under California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), damages are limited.

Who pays when the hospital is responsible?

Who is liable for a hospital fall will depend on the facts. Often the hospital is liable but if the doctor made a mistake, a separate company that employs the doctor could be on the hook. If the fall was caused by ordinary negligence, another party, like a cleaning crew responsible for the premises, could also be to blame.

This is less clear-cut than it sounds; some hospitals are privately-owned, some are part of a regional medical chain, and some even operate under contract by the federal government, meaning claims would need to comply with tort liability procedures under federal statutes.

Recovery for hospital slips and falls in Southern California

When you or a loved one has suffered an injury on someone else’s property, you need experienced counsel who will fight for your rights. This is especially necessary when battling the red tape involved in a hospital slip and fall. The Salamati Law Firm has dedicated the past two decades to fighting for the rights of those injured in CA. Call today to speak with a Los Angeles slip and fall attorney at the Salamati Law Firm.

Additional hospital slip and fall resources:

  1. Micra.org, Provisions of MICRA, http://micra.org/specifics-of-micra/provisions-of-micra/
  2. S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Claims Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, https://www.va.gov/OGC/FTCA.asp
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3 Unexpected Ways Your Child Can Get Injured at School

January 9, 2018 Premises Liability Lawsuits

More than 200,000 children under the age of 14 are treated for playground injuries every year in the United States.

Tables in a big colorful school cafeteriaMore than 200,000 children under the age of 14 are treated for playground injuries every year in the United States. Injuries at school – whether from contact sports, jungle gyms, or slipping on a wet floor—send thousands of kids to the hospital with fractured bones, dislocations, bruises and contusions.

Beyond playground accidents and sporting mishaps, there are other unexpected ways that your child can be injured while at school.

Food Poisoning

Since 1946, all public schools have been serving up cafeteria lunches with a view toward providing students a nutritional meal that would help facilitate learning. However, food-borne illnesses traced to lax safety standards, rodent infestations and improper food handling have made the news in schools across the country. Dozens of children have been hospitalized for infections from E. coli bacteria and salmonella, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea and severe dehydration.  In 1998, more than 1,200 students across 7 different states came down with food poisoning after eating burritos manufactured at a Chicago food plant.

Intentional acts of violence

According to a 2014 study published in the Journal Pediatrics, violence accounts for 10 percent of school injuries leading to emergency room visits in the U.S. Researchers found that of the more than 7.3 million ER visits by students ages 5 to 19 for school-related harm, roughly 736,000 incidents were described as intentional. Injuries included broken bones, cuts, concussions, bruises and sprains, and other physical trauma. Most acts of violence stemmed from fighting or students being assaulted by bullies. Males were more likely to be injured than females, and middle schoolers suffered more intentional injuries at school compared to those in elementary or high school.

Chemistry Lab Accidents

A science lab should be a place of safe learning and experimentation. Over the past decade, several notable chemistry lab accidents in both middle and high school environs have left students with second-degree burns, scarring and permanent disfigurement. One 15-year old student suffered burns over 40 percent of her body during a chemistry demo by her teacher that went horribly wrong. The Ohio girl, Calais Weber, has gone on to advocate good safety practices in science labs and cautions teens to speak up if they are not provided with proper safety equipment or instructions in lab experiments.

Know your rights in California

California’s public schools are supposed to be a safe place for learning and discovery, but accidents can and do happen with alarming frequency. If your child or teenager was harmed at school because of negligent supervision, negligent property maintenance or defective school equipment, it’s important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Parents may be entitled to monetary damages to help cover medical bills for school-related injuries.

To discuss your options with a Los Angeles premises liability lawyer who gets results, contact Sean Salamati for a free case review today.

Additional “School Injury Hazards” Resources:

  1. LiveScience, Violence Accounts for 10% of School Injuries https://www.livescience.com/42521-violence-kids-school-injuries.html
  2. ABC News, How Safe Are School Lunches? http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=132030&page=1
  3. TribLive, Chemistry lab mishaps in academic settings happen frequently http://triblive.com/home/2834482-74/safety-chemistry-lab-accidents-kaufman-incidents-langerman-students-teacher-based
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6 Escalator Horror Stories

December 28, 2017 Premises Liability Lawsuits

Escalators move thousands of people every day, in train stations, airports, department stores and other large buildings. Unfortunately, not all

Shopping Mall escalatorsEscalators move thousands of people every day, in train stations, airports, department stores and other large buildings.

Unfortunately, not all escalators are safe. They cause 10,000 injuries in the United States alone every year.

It’s not hard to see why. Escalators have multiple moving parts. If the parts become dislodged, people can become trapped in them. Clothing can become trapped and pull people in.

Escalators must be regularly maintained to be safe. The problem is, some are not regularly or sufficiently maintained. The escalators throughout the Washington, D.C. Metro subway system, for example, are notorious for frequently breaking down.

Adding to the threat is the fact that young children are most vulnerable.

Escalator Horror Stories from Near and Far

These escalator horror stories show how dangerous escalators can be.

  1. In China, maintenance workers forgot to screw an access cover back into place. A woman and her two-year old son got on the escalator, only to begin to fall through the unfastened access cover. The mother managed to throw her son to safety, but fell through the shaft herself before she could be rescued. She died in the accident.
  2. In London, an escalator exploded and killed more than 30 people. The reason? A buildup of debris and oil in insufficiently maintained escalators.
  3. A man was strangled when his hoodie became caught between an escalator’s stairs and landing platform.
  4. In Washington, D.C., people have been killed when their clothing became caught in an escalator. A 3-year-old was strangled at the Minnesota Avenue D.C. Metro Station. A middle-aged woman was killed when the Rhode Island D.C. Metro Station escalator caught some of her clothing.
  5. Escalator accidents can cause horrific injuries. At D.C. Metro Dupont Station, for example, a man lost the top of a foot because one of the station attendants, reportedly on drugs and suffering from mental illness, did not turn the emergency shut-off switch quickly enough.
  6. The D.C. Metro’s Smithsonian station was the site of an accident in which a visiting student lost a toe.

Experienced Premises Liability Attorneys in Southern California

Landlords and other responsible parties have a duty of care to maintain and repair escalators so that they are not dangerous to the public who come on their property. If they do not maintain them to a standard a reasonable person would find adequate, they can be sued if an injury occurs.

The Salamati Law Firm has an exceptional record of obtaining justice for our clients in premises liability cases in the Los Angeles area.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an escalator accident, call the offices of Los Angeles premises liability lawyer Sean Salamati today. We will provide a complimentary legal consultation. Payment will come from any final jury award or settlement amount.

Additional “Escalator Accident” Resources:

  1. Bradley, Ryan. “FYI: Why Are Escalators So Dangerous?” Popular Science. September 17, 2013. https://www.popsci.com/science/article/2011-04/fyi-why-are-escalators-so-dangerous
  2. D.C. Escalator Nightmare. Reason.com. April 12, 2012. https://reason.com/reasontv/2012/04/12/dc-escalators
  3. K12 News. “Woman Saves Son Before Falling to Her Death in Escalator.” http://www.12news.com/news/woman-saves-son-before-falling-to-her-death-in-escalator/184179847
  4. Mathews, Phillip. “How Dangerous Are Escalators?” USA Today. July 29, 2015. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/local/valley/2015/07/29/how-dangerous-are-escalators/30817195/
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How Do I Document My Slip and Fall Accident?

October 10, 2017 Premises Liability Lawsuits

Have you been injured after slipping or tripping and falling on someone else’s property? To improve the odds of walking

caution wet floor sign at a corridorHave you been injured after slipping or tripping and falling on someone else’s property? To improve the odds of walking away with a settlement or jury award, the premises liability attorneys at The Salamati Law Firm recommend that you document everything about your slip and fall accident.

Sometimes slipping and falling is not merely an accident. There are cases where a property owner’s negligence causes a safety issue or needless hazard that directly contributes to another person’s injuries. They may know that there is insufficient lighting, cracked sidewalks, uneven flooring, a spill, wet floors, debris in the walkway, broken railings, or overcrowded aisles – and fail to take action to remedy the situation.

Property owners are required by law to maintain safe premises and warn visitors of known dangers. A breach in this duty may entitle the injured party to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and wrongful death benefits.

If you’re looking for the best slip and fall lawyer Los Angeles has to offer, look no further than the Salamati Firm, which has been winning multi-million dollar verdicts since 1995. We help clients build strong cases for their premises liability lawsuits with our extensive network of legal experts, medical doctors, and city inspectors. We work on a contingency basis, meaning that we will only agree to take on your case if we know we can win.

Meanwhile, here are some recommendations for how to document your slip and fall injury:

Take pictures of the accident scene.

If possible, take multiple pictures of the area where your Los Angeles slip and fall accident occurred. Friends or relatives can assist you with this task. It is especially important to capture this immediate documentation before anything gets moved or changed — for example, in the case of a liquid spill-related accident, a store employee may mop up the spill after you fall. Taking pictures of any visible injuries will also be helpful to your case.

Write down what happened.

The details of even the most traumatic incidents will fade from memory with time, so try to write down as much as you can remember about the accident right away:

  • What circumstances caused you to fall?
  • Was there a hazardous condition?
  • Were there visible defects at the time?
  • Were there any warning signs?

Report what happened to the responsible party.

Insurance companies question the validity of accidents that are not reported within 24 hours. If you’re on a commercial property, find the highest level person in the building and report what happened. Get a business card (or at least the person’s name and job title). If you are injured on public property, report the incident to the city or town municipality, keeping a copy of the letter for your records. Report injuries on private property to the owner, taking care to get their name and contact information. Get the contact information of any eye witnesses, if possible.

Seek immediate medical attention.

Medical records must match claims reported to the insurance company. Go to the Emergency Room by ambulance if your injuries are severe. Otherwise, schedule an appointment with your doctor right away to discuss what happened.

Be sure to keep record of all the costs associated with your treatment – ambulance rides, hospital stays, surgeries, prescription costs, physical therapies, insurance co-pays, the purchase of assistive devices, and home modifications to accommodate disability.

Discharge sheets and written instructions from doctors are good to include in your file, as well as medical bills.

Contact a slip and fall attorney in Los Angeles to explore your full set of legal options. There’s nothing to lose!

Additional “documenting a slip and fall accident” resources:

  1. Justia, California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) (2017) Series 1000 – Premises Liability, https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/docs/caci/1000/
  2. Insurance Information Institute, Controlling Liability Risks, https://www.iii.org/publications/insuring-your-business-small-business-owners-guide-to-insurance/risk-management/controlling-liability-risks
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5 Summer Safety Tips for CA Families

July 10, 2017 Premises Liability Lawsuits

Summer is the perfect time for families to enjoy the great outdoors and take advantage of California’s beautiful parks, shoreline

beach ball swimming pool summer

Summer is the perfect time for families to enjoy the great outdoors and take advantage of California’s beautiful parks, shoreline and natural attractions. Whether relaxing with family or friends, these warmer months are often punctuated with picnics, backyard BBQs, bike rides, camping excursions, and afternoons spent at the beach or pool. Unfortunately, statistics show that the summer season is also marked by an uptick in serious accidents and injuries – particularly among young children and teens.

Keep your kids healthy and avoid preventable accidents this summer by following these five easy tips.

Make water safety a priority

Swimming is a fun way to beat the heat in the summertime, but this activity is not without risks. Avoid injury by ensuring your children know how to swim, and never leave young kids unsupervised around water – even shallow kiddie pools. Always keep lifejackets and life preservers at hand, whether you’re at the pool, beach or on a boating trip. Remember that drowning is among the leading causes of accidental child death. If you have a pool in your home, ensure that a 4-foot barrier or fence with self-closing gates is installed, and equip the area with an alarm that can alert you if a child falls into the pool.

Always wear a helmet when biking

Riding bicycles is a healthy pastime for both adults and children, but accidents with vehicles can lead to life-threatening injury. Always make yourself visible to motorists by wearing brightly colored clothes or a reflective vest and never bike without a properly fitting helmet, which can help prevent head trauma and brain injury in the event of a collision.

Prevent heat stroke & sunburn

Enjoy Southern California’s hot summer sun in moderation. Even the healthiest of people can suffer from heat cramps, heat stroke and heat-related illness. If planning outdoor excursions or day trips, try and avoid direct sun exposure between 12-2 PM, and stay well-hydrated by drinking lots of water. Always apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30, and apply 30 minutes before going outside. Remember to reapply sunscreen after swimming or sweating.

Be alert for playground hazards

According to the CDC, more than 20,000 children (age 14 or younger) are treated in emergency departments in the U.S. for playground-related brain injuries every year. An estimated 80 percent of these injuries are caused by falls. Slides, monkey bars, swings and other equipment can pose serious hazards when not properly maintained. Be alert for bolts, hooks, sharp edges and other hardware that can cut or impale, and always keep a close eye on young children.

Be safe around fireworks

Independence Day celebrations are just around the corner, which means firework displays! Unfortunately, firework accidents can lead to severe burns and disfiguring injuries. Keep safe this 4th of July — never let children or teens set off fireworks, and always use safety goggles when shooting them off. Keep a hose of bucket of water handy, and always read product directions before igniting.

Legal advice from Salamati Law

Although some summertime accidents are just that – many others are caused by dangerous conditions that should have been addressed through proper maintenance. When serious injury is traced back to a property owner’s negligence, victims have the right to legal recourse.

Salamati Law helps personal injury clients throughout Southern California recover just compensation for their losses. If you or someone in your family was harmed at a playground, a pool, or another person’s property,  you may have grounds for litigation. Speak to a skilled LA premises liability attorney today by calling 888-259-4060.

Additional Summer Safety Resources:

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics, Summer Safety Tips 2017 https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/pages/summer-safety-tips.aspx
  2. CDC, Make Summer Safe for Kids https://www.cdc.gov/family/kids/summer/index.htm
  3. National Safety Council, Summer Safety Tips http://www.nsc.org/learn/Pages/safety-events-summer-safety.aspx
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California Homeowner’s Liability: Duty of Care

June 21, 2017 Premises Liability Lawsuits

If you fall on a slippery floor and are injured at another person’s home, can you sue for damages? This

cracked jagged broken sidewalkIf you fall on a slippery floor and are injured at another person’s home, can you sue for damages? This area of litigation would be based on theories of premises liability in which property owners and/or managers may be held culpable in the event that their negligence created an unsafe condition that resulted in injury.

The mere fact that you were harmed by a dangerous condition – such as broken step, uneven flooring or an exposed cord — does not in and of itself give rise to a premises liability lawsuit. The injured party (known as the plaintiff) must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the homeowner was negligent in some manner. Examples include:

  • Failing to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition
  • Failing to make reasonable efforts to keep visitors safe from probable dangers
  • Failing to identify a hazardous condition
  • Failing to take measures to repair or replace the dangerous condition
  • Or, failing to provide warning to visitors about the unsafe condition

Homeowner’s duty of care

California homeowners have a legal responsibility, known as a “duty of care,” to keep their property safe for visitors. In this respect, visitors can be family members, friends, colleagues, casual acquaintances, hired workers, or any person who is invited into your home. Most homeowners don’t give much thought to serious accidents that can occur on their property, but even good friends and relatives have been known to sue after suffering injury they claim to be the fault of their host.

Under California law, this basic duty of care is defined as follows:

“Any person who owns, leases or controls property is negligent if he or she fails to use reasonable care to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition … This person must use reasonable care to discover any unsafe conditions and to repair, replace, or give adequate warning of anything that could be reasonably expected to harm others.”

Factors that parlay into whether the homeowner used “reasonable care” include:

  • Location of the home and property
  • The chances that someone would enter the property in the same manner as the injured party
  • The likelihood of physical harm
  • The seriousness of such harm
  • Whether the homeowner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition
  • The extent of the homeowner’s control over the hazard that created a risk of harm
  • Whether the homeowner knew this condition would pose risk of harm
  • The extent of difficulty the homeowner would face protecting against the risk of harm

Responsibility to keep visitors safe

There are many situations in which a homeowner could face legal action from a visitor. California homeowners must abide by state laws pertaining to swimming pools and drowning hazards. This may include erecting a fence or barrier around pools to ensure small children cannot enter unattended.

In addition, homeowners may face liability for structural problems such as broken or hazardous flooring surfaces that could cause a visitor to trip and suffer injury.

For instance, if a homeowner knew that one of their wooden porch steps is damaged (but may not be apparent to guests), they may be held responsible if they do not alert visitors of this condition and someone is injured when the step breaks.

Los Angeles premises liability attorney

Homeownership comes with myriad benefits, but it also entails many responsibilities. Injuries suffered on another person’s property can result in significant medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering. To learn more about your rights to compensation in the wake of such an accident, it’s best to speak with an experienced Los Angeles premises liability lawyer at The Salamati Firm. Schedule your free consultation by dialing 888-259-4060.

Additional “California Homeowner’s Liability” Resources:

  1. Justia, California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 1003. Unsafe Conditions https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/docs/caci/1000/1003.html
  2. Justia, California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 1003. Unsafe Conditions 1001. Basic Duty of Care https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/docs/caci/1000/1001.html
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What Duty Do Store Owners Have to Visitors in California?

June 7, 2017 Premises Liability Lawsuits

Store owners have a legal “duty of care” to maintain their properties in a safe condition for shoppers. Money, vigilance,

caution wet floor signStore owners have a legal “duty of care” to maintain their properties in a safe condition for shoppers. Money, vigilance, and planning on the part of California shop keepers is required to prevent accidents and injuries from occurring on their properties.

Property owners must anticipate all potential hazards, follow municipal building codes, train employees, and create routine supervisory and maintenance routines to ensure a safe environment.

What does it mean to “make a reasonable effort” to maintain a property?

Sometimes all it takes is a word of caution to free store owners of liability. Putting up a caution sign to warn customers of a wet floor is one of the easiest steps a store owner can take to reduce negligence – but, surprisingly, case after case shows that employees are mopping without putting up caution signs, leading unsuspecting customers to slip.

Hazardous situations can arise suddenly in a store environment, posing a challenge to store owners to keep their properties maintained. For instance, in 2012, a California Costco shopper slipped on a puddle of liquid soap that had accumulated over time and shattered her knee cap. Several employees had passed and noticed the spill, but failed to clean it up. Costco was ordered to pay over $400,000 for the woman’s medical bills, pain, and suffering.

The courts expect store owners to have routine safety procedures in place and “make a reasonable effort” to maintain order. In another famous California slip-and-fall case, a woman sued Costco when she slipped on a pot sticker food sample and shattered her tail bone. A store policy was in place that had employees inspecting the floor on an hourly basis, and the incident occurred within that window of time. The jury sided with Costco that hourly inspections should be sufficient enough to prevent most injuries.

Dangerous conditions in stores that lead to injuries

Other examples of overlooked safety issues include:

  • Improper stacking of heavy objects above the reach of the typical customer
  • Overloading store aisles or poor placement of merchandise
  • Failing to monitor the store for new hazards
  • Failure to promptly respond to known spills and water leaks
  • Problems with lighting
  • Loose handrails
  • Broken stairs
  • Failure to regularly inspect and maintain escalators
  • Noncompliance with local municipal building codes or fire regulations
  • Parking lot imperfections

Proving a premises liability claim

Essentially, by California State Negligence Law, the plaintiff’s case must establish:

  1. A dangerous condition existed at the store.
  2. An injury occurred that was directly related to the dangerous condition.
  3. The injured victim suffered damage and loss as the result of the accident.
  4. The store owner knew (or should have known) about the danger.
  5. The store owner failed to take steps to remedy the dangerous condition.

Store owners can raise the following defenses:

  • “There was no hazard on the premises.”
  • “The plaintiff could have easily avoided the situation.”
  • “The plaintiff’s injuries were not caused by the hazard.”
  • “The accident occurred where customers are not allowed.”
  • “Proper signage warned of the danger.”
  • “Reasonable steps were taken to make the property safer.”

Experienced store injury attorneys in Los Angeles, California

The Salamati Firm successfully represents individuals who have been injured while shopping in Los Angeles, California. Property owners often deny liability, placing the burden of proof on the plaintiff. Our experienced team is adept at compiling all the expert witnesses and supporting documents required to build a strong case, whether in settlement negotiations or in court. Over the past decade, we have secured millions of dollars on behalf of our store slip-and-fall clients.

Consider some of the following recent premises liability verdicts secured on behalf of our clients:

  • A Sears customer received $375,000 in settlement after fracturing a knee that required surgery from a fall on a wet bathroom floor. No caution signs were placed at the scene.
  • A shopping center customer received $337,500 in settlement for injuries sustained to both knees, resulting in medical bills of $10,000 and the future possibility of knee replacement surgery. Our client fell over a one-inch piece of metal protruding from the lot, where someone had attempted to remove a disabled parking sign.
  • A 30-year-old UCLA medical assistant shopping at Sam’s Club received $575,000 after her slip-and-fall on a wet floor resulted in a torn meniscus requiring knee surgery. Her doctor diagnosed her with arthritis and predicted the need for future knee replacement.

Get in touch with a friendly and compassionate Los Angeles premises liability lawyer at 888-259-4060 for a free no-obligation consultation.

Additional “store owner liability in California” resources:

  1. Pasadena Star News, Covina woman awarded $415,000 following slip and fall at Industry Costco, http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/article/zz/20120307/NEWS/120308260
  2. Press Democrat, Santa Rosa Costco cleared in ‘pot sticker’ case, http://www.pressdemocrat.com/csp/mediapool/sites/PressDemocrat/News/story.csp?cid=2297573&sid=555&fid=181
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