You might be surprised at how intense the injuries from a simple slip and fall can be – and not just for the elderly. The alarming reality is that anyone at any time can slip and fall on a dangerous surface. According to the CDC, 1 in 5 falls or 20% results in a “serious injury” such as broken bones or spinal and brain injuries with lifelong consequences.
The chances of an accident go up when business and property owners don’t upkeep their property according to legal guidelines. If you have suffered a serious fall in a retail store in California, a personal injury lawyer can bring your case to court, though that is relatively rare. More often, they will help you build a strong enough case that insurance reps are persuaded to negotiate a fair settlement.
In both situations, consulting with a slip and fall lawyer in Los Angeles from Salamati Law gives you the best chance at receiving maximum compensation that can help in your healing process.
Common Causes of Slips in California Stores
Most falls are avoidable if a business is acting responsibly and keeping up with cleaning and maintenance, which is why business or landowners might be held liable in California if someone is hurt on a slippery surface. Here are some common causes of slips and falls in a retail environment:
- A spilled product
- Overuse of floor wax
- Excessive soap left from cleaning
- Tracked in rainwater
- Poor lighting
- AC or refrigeration leaks
- Improper flooring for the space (for example, a tile that is too slippery for a kinetic space like a gym)
Business and property owners are responsible for the general upkeep of their space, but in a slip and fall lawsuit, the court also takes into account whether or not the defendant had enough notice of the defect that caused the fall.
How Does California Decide if a Business Owner Had Enough Notice of a Hazard?
Proving that a business owner is negligent isn’t enough to win a slip and fall case in California; an injured person must also prove that the business owner had enough information and time to fix the hazard before the fall happened and failed to do so. This is called establishing “notice” and here are four ways a land or business owner can be considered “on notice” of a dangerous defect:
- Actual notice: This one is pretty straightforward. If the defendant was told about the defect, saw the defect, or was otherwise made aware, they were on notice.
- Constructive notice: This type of notice is up for debate, and often the main contention in a slip-and-fall case. Basically, it means that if the property owner or manager was doing their maintenance properly, they should have noticed the defect and there is evidence they had plenty of time to do so.
- If they created the defect: If the defendant failed to follow building code and other safety guidelines and created the issue, they are considered on notice.
- If the defect was recurring: If there is a defect on the property that might be reasonably overlooked BUT the business owner knew it was reoccurring (such as a spot on the ceiling that leaks every time it rains), the victim can likely successfully argue the defendant was on notice.
What To Do if You’ve Slipped and Hurt Yourself in a Store
Slipping and falling in a store can be painful and embarrassing. If it has happened to you, here are the steps you can take immediately afterwards to keep your road to recovery as smooth as possible:
- Make sure you’re OK. Do not rush to get up. You don’t want to hurt yourself further. Call for help if necessary and make sure you or a bystander contact 911 if you think you need medical attention right away.
- Collect any evidence. If you’re able to move around safely, it’s time to play detective. Look around and see what caused your fall, and if there were any signs put up by the store to warn you. If you have a smartphone, take photos of the area. Visual evidence is very persuasive in slip and fall settlements.
- Get contact info from witnesses. If anyone saw your fall and/or assisted you right after, get their contact information because they might offer valuable perspective in court. Even if they did not see exactly what happened, they can still speak about the conditions of the store and the hazard.
- Let an employee know what happened. If you haven’t been helped or approached by an employee, find one and tell them what happened so they can make an official report. Stick to the simple facts as you’re making the report and don’t begin speculating about why the accident happened or how injured you are. You might accidentally say something the store could use against you to downplay your injuries or their negligence. Also remember that you don’t have to sign anything.
- Get medical attention. See a doctor as soon as possible after the accident, even if you don’t think you need to. First, you might be more injured than you think. Head, back and neck injuries can be sneaky and sometimes aren’t immediately noticeable. If a doctor catches them before you do, you can start treating them sooner. Second, getting a medical report can help your case. It offers further proof that you were injured and will also indicate if you were advised not to work. The store could be held responsible for lost wages during this time.
Hurt in a Slip and Fall? A Salamati Attorney Will Fight for You
The statute of limitations in California is limited to two years after the date of the incident, and by waiting, you might lose out on compensation that is rightfully yours. Schedule a free consultation with us today if you have slipped and fallen in a supermarket, retail store, or shopping mall with unsafe conditions. We’re available 24/7 to chat online or by phone.