Slip-and-Fall Accident Lawyers in Orange County
Slip-and-fall accidents are a common cause of premises liability claims. As the name indicates, these cases involve the victim slipping, falling, and receiving a serious injury as a result. While people trip and scrape their knees every day, a slip-and-fall is far more serious. As a result, victims of a slip-and-fall accident can file a civil lawsuit against the liable parties to recover damages incurred from their injuries.
However, when it comes to premises liability, your ability to file a civil lawsuit depends on a number of factors. You will need to demonstrate that the property owner knew or should have known about a slip-and-fall hazard, that you were injured by their actions or inactions, and that you are owed compensation from them. All of this is difficult to do alone while you are recovering. But, if you or someone you love has been injured in a slip-and-fall accident due to someone else’s negligence, then you should reach out to the Orange County slip-and-fall accident attorneys at Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie. Our legal team can review your case and provide in-depth legal advice about your options. To schedule a free consultation, contact our offices at (949) 752-7474.
Someone can slip and fall in almost any setting: walking around the house, exercising, grocery shopping, or during countless other activities. But a slip-and-fall accident becomes an issue of premises liability when it occurs on:
- Someone else’s property
- Where the property owner has a “duty of care” to all patrons.
This encompasses a wide range of different environments, including:
- Shopping Centers: Malls and other retail locations are common sites for slip-and-fall accidents. Frequently, employees may leave floors wet without proper safety signs. When a customer slips on that surface, she could suffer broken bones, head trauma, and other severe injuries.
- Restaurants: Employees at a restaurant should make sure that every diner has a safe and enjoyable experience. When food or drink is spilled over the floor and goes unnoticed, an unsuspecting customer can quickly become a victim.
- Hotels: Nobody wants to be dealing with a serious fall injury when they're on vacation. Unfortunately, this can happen almost anywhere on a hotel's property, including the bathroom, parking lot, stairways, and balconies.
- Apartment Buildings: Apartment buildings have numerous places where someone could suffer from a fall. For example, if the property manager has not kept up with the building's maintenance needs, a tenant could be injured on the stairs, in walkways, on the elevators, and in other areas.
Depending on the place of business, someone can fall for many different reasons, such as:
- Wet surfaces: Walking on slippery surfaces can cause severe injuries. When a place of business has a wet floor, it is required to post a safety sign or block off the area to warn customers. If employees neglect to do this, it can have dire consequences.
- Hazardous weather: Take extra caution whenever you walk anywhere with rainy, icy, or windy conditions. Slip-and-fall accidents are especially dangerous when property owners neglect to properly salt the sidewalks outside their establishments.
- Poor lighting: If a place of business has inadequate lighting, it's easy for a victim to be unaware of any nearby dangerous conditions.
- Inadequate employee training: In all workplaces, employers have an obligation to properly train employees and ensure they can adequately perform their duties. When these duties involve lifting or doing any sort of constant motion, like jobs found in warehouses or retail stores, improper employee training can increase the risk of suffering from a slip-and-fall.
Anyone can become injured in a slip-and-fall accident, but there are groups that are more prone to injuries than others. For example, if you have a disability, then a fall can be even harder for you to recover from than an able-bodied individual. It is important to mot that even if your condition made you more prone to suffering a fall, such as if you used crutches that could potentially get caught on a crack or loose carpet, you still have a right to pursue a claim against the property owner.
The elderly are also at serious risk of suffering catastrophic injuries in a fall. Their bones, tendons, joints, and ligaments are not as stable as younger individuals, meaning that if they are involved in a fall, they are more likely to suffer broken bones and soft-tissue damage. They are also less coordinated, making it harder for them to catch themselves and avoid hitting their heads. These injuries can also be more difficult for them to recover from, even with proper physical therapy and surgeries.
While you may only consider the latter two groups at risk, children can and often do suffer traumatic injuries in slip and fall accidents. We often picture children as the epitome of health and believe they can handle any scrape or fall that life throws at them, but their bodies are still developing. This means they are more likely to suffer broken bones, soft tissue damage, and even spine and head injuries. While, with proper treatment, they can recover faster than most individuals, it can be extremely hard for them to develop properly with a newfound disability or brain damage.
Dismissing a slip-and-fall accident as a mere tumble or carelessness is a mistake. When you fall, the full weight of your body can collide with concrete, asphalt, or random objects that can severely injure you. You should always seek medical care after a fall from a large height, such as if you fell down a flight of stairs or on hard pavement. This is especially important if you suffered head trauma as well.
It is not uncommon for slip-and-fall accident victims to suffer:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord damage like slipped discs
- Neck and back trauma
- Hip fractures
- Soft tissue damage, such as sprained ankles and torn hamstrings
- Broken bones
In serious cases, victims have been known to die as a result of serious head trauma or complications during a fall, such as if they suffered internal damage from a puncture wound or were not treated immediately for a spinal cord injury. These situations are truly tragic, as they are fully avoidable if a property owner takes the necessary precautions to protect guests and residents. If your loved one passed away due to a slip-and-fall accident, then you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim for damages and to hold the property owner accountable.
It is important to note that slip-and-fall claims, like most premises liability claims in California, are based on the concept that a property owner has a “duty of care” towards the victim. Duty of care is a broad term that means that someone has a duty to protect you from harm or serious injuries. For example, all California drivers naturally have a duty of care towards other people on the road, meaning that they should not commit any action that injures someone else.
When applied to a property owner, that duty was once very limited. Before 1968, California courts categorized individuals who enter a property into three categories: invitee, licensee, and trespasser. Under these categories, licensees and trespassers received fewer rights in a premises liability claim. However, after 1968, the Superior Court of California redefined a property owner’s duty of care. Now, if the property owner commits some act of negligence, such as failing to clean up a spill or constructing a staircase that is not up to municipal codes, then they can be held liable if there was reason to assume someone would enter the premises. This means that even trespassers may have a case against a negligent property owner, but their cases are more difficult than if they were legally allowed to enter a property.
In addition, the Americans with Disabilities Act outlines specific rules for premises that are open to the public. Specifically, businesses must make sure that their floors as free of tripping hazards, slick or wet surfaces, and that stairways are stable. This law applies to anyone who enters a building, whether or not they are disabled, and any violation of it that leads to any injury can make a property owner liable in a premises liability claim.
At first, the question of liability after a fall may seem straightforward. If the business owner neglected to keep customers safe, they should be held liable. While this is generally true, the laws surrounding premises liability are far more complex.
California has a statute of limitations when it comes to slip-and-fall accidents that could prevent certain victims from recovering their damages. Victims have up to two years after the accident to file a civil lawsuit. If the case involves property damage, like your watch getting damaged in the fall, you have up to three years to file a lawsuit.
In order to prove your case, it must be shown that the defendant neglected his or her duty of care. It must also be proven that this negligence directly resulted in your injuries. With many premises liability cases, the accident could have been caused by both the actions of the defendant and the plaintiff. The state of California has what is called “comparative negligence,” and it means that the potential damages you can recover in a civil lawsuit can be reduced if your actions contributed to the accident.
The rules surrounding premises liability are complex and can become frustrating. That's why you need the help of a seasoned, experienced, and talented Orange County premises liability attorney who can help you navigate this complicated legal environment so you can receive the financial compensation you deserve.
Every slip-and-fall case is different, and your case’s value may vary compared to other plaintiffs. There is not a specific calculation that determines how much money you are owed from a negligent property owner, but there are common factors between cases. When filing a premises liability claim, the goal of your case is to recover the damages, or costs, you have suffered due to the injury and make you whole again.
Thus, in the state of California, compensation can include any physical and personal costs you have suffered due to your injuries. When applied to a slip-and-fall claim, these damages often include medical expenses, lost wages, and disabilities. However, the courts do also recognize the personal costs of an injury that are not accounted for in bills and expenses.
These two types of damages are divided into economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages will include anything that has a price tag, such as medical bills, wages that you lost because your injury kept you from working, and even renovations to your home if you have a disability. In turn, the personal costs are considered non-economic damages, meaning they do not have a clear price tag. These can include your pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and mental anguish.
Traditionally, a slip-and-fall claim can be filed to recover:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost career opportunities
- Renovations to your home or vehicle
- Pain and suffering
Ultimately, the size of your claim will come down to the extent of your injuries, the financial costs of them, and how they have affected your life. In addition, the level of negligence committed by a property owner can impact your compensation as well, as juries tend to look down upon acts of gross negligence, or anything that would be considered morally wrong.
But, in order to receive proper compensation in a settlement negotiation or jury trial, you will need to find the right attorney who can use all their skill and experience to advocate on your behalf.
Slip-and-fall accidents always come as a surprise. You may be on vacation, going grocery shopping, or buying a present for someone at a store, and all of a sudden, you are reeling from a serious bodily injury. The team at Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie is committed to helping all victims of Orange County and Costa Mesa slip-and-fall accidents receive financial compensation that covers their medical expenses, lost income, and even their emotional pain following the accident. If you or a loved one has fallen and been seriously injured, it's critical that you don't wait. Call our office at (949) 752-7474 for a free consultation.
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