Although a fall may seem relatively harmless, one out of five falls will result in a serious injury. The risk of becoming injured in a fall is particularly high for older adults. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for adults aged 65 years or older and are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury. Even after a victim recovers from their initial injury, they can encounter difficulty with performing daily tasks, living on their own, or remaining healthy. The psychological effect of falling can also cause victims to become less active because they fear falling again. This lack of activity further weakens their strength and balance, ultimately making them more vulnerable to subsequent falls.
If you or a loved one sustained an injury after a slip and fall accident due to the negligence of another person or entity, call our firm. You may be entitled to file a premises liability claim against the responsible party. Learn more about slip and fall claims below, then contact the Ward Firm to discuss your injury. Our Elk Grove slip and fall lawyers have handled hundreds of premises liability claims throughout California. We provide comprehensive legal representation through every stage of your case and are dedicated to helping you recover the compensation you deserve.
What Is a Slip and Fall Accident?
Slip and fall accidents refer to injury-causing accidents that occur when a person falls on someone else’s property. This may include a restaurant, shopping mall, or apartment complex. Common causes of falls include icy walkways, slippery or wet floor surfaces, loose floorboards, fraying carpet, uneven tile, and other areas where debris clutters a walkway. Fall-related injuries fall under the purview of premises liability law. This branch of civil law deals with disputes between property owners and individuals who sustain injuries due to unaddressed and unmarked hazards on their property. Under this law, all property owners are legally obligated to ensure their premises are safe for visitors, guests, and customers.
Regardless of whether they own a commercial or residential property, property ownersare responsible for keeping their property safe. This meansactively preventing potential hazards and immediately addressing any known dangers that could pose a danger to others. If there is a necessary delay between identifying the hazard and resolving it, property owners must place warning signs around these hazards. This ensures anyone in the vicinity is aware of the issues and knows to take extra care in that area.
How Do I Prove a Slip and Fall Personal Injury Claim?
To recover compensation in a slip and fall claim, you must establish liability by proving that the property owner acted negligently. Proving negligence requires four main elements:
Duty – The property owner owed you a duty of care. Duty of care only applies to lawful visitors, meaning individuals with express or implied permission by the owner to enter the premises, rather for personal reasons or to conduct a business transaction. Trespassers on private property are not owed a duty of care unless they are children.
Breach of Duty – The property owner violated this duty of care. This means they knew about or should have known about the hazardous condition on the property,and they failed to address it. The property owner may have neglected to repair the hazards or didn’t provide adequate warning of the danger.
Causation – The property owner’s duty of care violation directly caused the accident and resulting injuries. You can still file a valid claim and recover compensation even if you are partially at fault for the accident.
Damages – You suffered specific damages due to your injuries.
Damages refer to losses you sustained because of your injuries and comprise both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include medical costs, lost income, loss of earning potential, and property damage. Medical costs encompass both what you have already spent on medical treatment and what you are estimated to pay for future treatment. This consists of bills for emergency care, hospitalization, lab tests, x-rays, surgical procedures, physical therapy, prescription medications, and assistive devices such as wheelchairs.
Non-economic damages include pain and suffering and emotional distress, such as anxiety, PTSD, or other psychological conditions caused by the injury. In some cases, you may also pursue punitive damages if the property owner’s actions were especially careless or egregious. Your attorney will gather evidence to show the full extent of your damages and calculate a compensation amount that covers them.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
To challenge your claim or minimize your potential recovery, the property owner’s insurance company will likely argue that you share some portion of responsibility for the accident. They may claim you were trespassing in a restricted area, wearing inappropriate footwear, not paying attention to your surroundings, or engaging in other behaviors that increased the risk of an accident, such as texting while walking or running in areas where it is prohibited. They may also argue that they sufficiently warned you of the dangerous condition with signage or cones or that the potential hazards should have been obvious.
California follows a “pure comparative negligence” rule for personal injury cases, meaning you can still recover damages if you share responsibility for the injury-causing accident. If your actions in any way contributed to the accident, the judge will determine your percentage of the blame and reduce your compensation award according to this percentage. For example, in a case where your damages equal $100,000, a judge may find you 30% responsible for the accident, so you would recover 70% of the total damages, or $70,000. This comparative negligence rule applies to both settlements and litigated cases.
How Much Should I Settle for a Slip and Fall Injury?
The amount of compensation you can recover from a slip and fall depends on whether your case can be settled outside of court or must be litigated by your attorney. Most plaintiffs in slip and fall claims reach a settlement without going to trial, and the average settlement amount for these cases ranges from $10,000 to $50,000 in California.
The final payout will depend on the type and severity of the injury you sustained, the damages you incurred, and how significantly the injury will continue to impact your life. More severe injuries require more expensive medical care. They also often involve continuing treatment such as additional surgeries or physical therapy. A longer recovery time can prevent you from working for months or years at a time or make it impossible for you to return to your previous position. Some injuries can be permanently debilitating or disabling. The combination of higher medical bills, lost income, and lost earning capacity will impact your life more significantly and cause greater suffering, leading to a higher settlement award.
How Long After Slip and Falls Can You Sue?
Different claims follow different statutes of limitations, or the maximum amount of time after the incident occurs that you can file a claim and initiate legal proceedings against the responsible party.In California, plaintiffs in premises liability claims have two years to file an action for an injury caused by another person’s negligence. However, in rare cases, this statute of limitations may be “tolled” or paused for a longer period, such as if the victim is a minor. If you experienced property damage during your fall, you have a separate three-year statute of limitations for filing a claim. Bringing a premises liability claim after the statute of limitations expires means the court will reject your claim.
One important exception to the standard statute of limitations for an injury is filing a claim against the state or municipal government. For example, the government may be liable for negligence if you fell on public property (such as on a city sidewalk) or in a government-funded agency, like the DMV or town hall. In this case, you must file an “administrative claim” within six months after the injury, and the government must respond to your allegations within 45 days. If they deny your claim, you may move forward with legal action within six months after the date of the denial. If they neglect to respond, you have two years after the date of the injury to take legal action against them.
Recover the Injury Compensation You Deserve
If you sustained a serious injury in a slip and fall accident caused by another person’s negligence, we can help. You may be entitled to file a premises liability claim to hold the responsible party accountable. Because you only have two years from the date of injury to file your claim, you must contact an Elk Grove accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options for legal recourse. Regardless of how confident you may be about settling your claim, it is crucial to speak with an attorney after sustaining your injury so they have adequate time to prepare your case.
At the Ward Law Firm, our founding attorney, Justin L. Ward, has more than a decade of experience handling premises liability cases. He has the legal knowledge, resources, and skills to provide the dedicated level of representation you need to support you through your case. Whether this entails negotiating with insurance companies or taking your claim to civil court, he can serve as a powerful advocate for you throughout every step and aggressively protect your interests. Contact the Ward Law Firm today to schedule a consultation.
Schedule a Free Consultation
At your free initial consultation, you will meet directly with Justin, and he will explain how he can best help you with your case. If you decide to work with us, we will immediately get started on creating a strategy that protects your interests.
To get more information, call our office at 916-443-2474 or send us an email using our contact form. We are available by phone 24 hours a day. Se habla español.
The Ward Firm is open and actively assisting clients with personal injury, criminal, and employment related matters, and we do not anticipate any interruption in representation. However, please understand that all appointments will be telephonic as we observe the CDC's recommended social distancing.