Do I Have a Case After a Fall?
Trip or slip and falls are the most common types of accidents. Many of these accidents occur because of a defect on the property. This article addresses the liability of business or property owners when a fall occurs.
Some accidents occur because the pedestrian merely is not paying attention. Other accidents occur because the property or business owner creates a hazard or allows a dangerous condition to remain on the property causing a fall.
Typically, there are two kinds of hazards. One common type of danger is water or liquid on the floor. In these cases, the victim must show the owner knew or should have known of the hazard to warn of or clean up the danger.
Another type of danger is one that is created by the owner. For example, the owner may build stairs that are not in compliance with California law. The stairs may be too high or not long enough. Inadequate lighting can also create a dangerous condition. An owner is liable if he created the danger which caused the fall.
As former defense attorneys, we know the common defenses used by the insurance companies. The most common argument is that the owner did not have “notice” of the danger. One way to prove notice is to show that the appearance of the dangerous condition is such that it must have been around for a long time. Another way is to show the business owner did not have a practice in place to inspect the premises. Many business owners keep “sweep sheets.” For example, some business owners keep a log posted inside a restroom that shows the times it was inspected. The absence of a sweep sheet is evidence the owner was not carefully checking his property to find dangers to prevent a fall.
The fall must be consistent with the injury. In most cases, the victim knows what happened and can explain how the danger caused the fall. A victim of a fall because of an old piece of fruit at a grocery store will know how she fell and can describe the danger. Other cases are not as simple such as when a person loses consciousness and cannot remember how she fell. In those cases, a more extensive investigation is needed to determine the cause.
Two types of damages are recoverable. A victim is entitled to things such as medical expenses or loss of income. These losses are called economic damages. A victim is also entitled to pain and suffering, which are called non-economic damages. Injuries resulting from falls can be severe and result in some disability.
There are many ways to prove an owner is liable. Evidence that a dangerous condition existed can come from witnesses, emergency personnel, and store personnel. Photographs and video cameras can also prove the danger. In other cases, experts are needed, such as when stairs do not comply with building codes.
Slip and fall accidents are usually contested and easy to lose if not handled properly. You need an experienced lawyer that knows how to prosecute these types of cases. Schedule a free consultation with MCIS Lawyers.