In California, a property owner is not automatically liable for injuries in all slip and fall accidents that happen on their premises. Every experienced Los Angeles slip and fall lawyer will tell you that these claims can be derailed if the injured party ignored warning signs, took unnecessary risks that contributed to their injuries, or trespassed where the injuries occurred.
For more than twenty years, we have helped California accident victims to collect the damages that they deserve for their injuries and to overcome defenses to slip and fall claims. In almost every case, the key to recovering the largest possible compensation is to understand when and how a property owner may be responsible for an individual’s injuries and to anticipate and rebut potential slip and fall defenses early in the claims process.
Slip and Fall Negligence and the Property Owner’s Duty of Care
Slip and fall liability in California is a subset of negligence law. Property owners will be responsible for damages caused by their negligence when:
- the owner owes a duty to a third party;
- the owner breaches that duty;
- the owner’s breach is the direct and proximate cause of an accident;
- the third party suffers economic losses and injuries because of the accident;
Property owners have a duty is to keep their premises free from known hazards and to warn guests and invited persons if those hazards cannot be remedied. Under some circumstances, a property owner might defend against a slip and fall claim by arguing that they did not know about a hazard.
This can happen, for example, with water that was just spilled or debris that accumulated in a parking lot after a very recent storm. Under other circumstances, an owner might argue that an accident resulted from an intervening event and not from a known hazard on the property.
The Injured Party’s Own Responsibility for a Slip and Fall Accident
California applies a pure comparative negligence standard to all negligence cases. Under this standard, the damages that an injured party can claim will be reduced in proportion to their fault. A property owner might defend against a slip and fall claim by arguing, for example, that the injured party was 50% at fault, in which case that party’s recovery will be reduced by half.
Knowing that a damages award can be reduced by comparative negligence, an owner might point out that the individual was distracted by a smartphone, ignored warning signs, wore shoes that were inappropriate for the conditions, walked unreasonably fast over uneven ground, or was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Anything that shifts even a part of the blame to the injured party will be used as a defense.
The Extent of a Party’s Injuries
In virtually every California slip and fall case, a property owner and their insurance company will seek objective proof of injuries and losses. They will defend against a claim by arguing that those losses are minor or immaterial. Knowledgeable and experienced lawyers rebut these arguments with documented evidence of the following:
- past and anticipated future medical expenses
- expenses for occupational and rehabilitative therapy
- pain and suffering
- lost wages
- missed employment opportunities, and
- loss of consortium
The Facts and Circumstances of an Accident are Critical in Slip and Fall Claims
A personal injury lawyer will need to describe all of the facts and circumstances of the accident. This can include showing evidence of your slip and fall accident such as photographs of the accident scene, eliciting testimony from eyewitnesses, demonstrating that the injured party bore no responsibility and that no intervening events caused the accident, and depicting the lighting, weather, and traffic conditions around the accident scene.
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If you have suffered injuries as a result of a slip and fall accident in southern California, please see our website or contact us directly for a free consultation with a slip and fall lawyer in Los Angeles.