Slip and Fall Accidents in Orange County, CA?

Whether you slipped on a mysterious liquid at the grocery store or tripped over a loose brick at your friend’s house, you may be entitled to compensation. Property owners have an obligation to make sure their property is safe.

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What is a slip and fall or trip and fall accident?

Most people have likely heard these terms used before, but in the legal world, they fall under a body of law known as Premises Liability. Though slipping on a wet spot or tripping over something mistakenly left on the floor are among the most common types of accident, a wide variety of situations could lead to a Premises Liability claim. At Beckerman Anderson, APC we have seen and heard of all types of situations that gave rise to a Premises Liability claim. Things like:

  • Falling through a floor which was not maintained;
  • A dilapidated awning swinging loose from a building and hitting person in the face;
  • Falling out of a window in a tall building;
  • Tree limbs breaking away unexpectedly;
  • Not securing the property from known threats;
  • Unsecured objects falling off of shelves.

As you can see, any number of situations could arise which would lead to a Premises Liability claim. When you have been injured while visiting another’s property because of an unsafe condition, lack of security, or inadequate maintenance, you may be entitled to compensation. If you have been injured on property owned by another, it is important to contact an experienced premises liability attorney to review the facts and circumstances of your case.

How do I know if someone is liable?

A property owner, manager, or person in control of property has a duty to make that property reasonably safe for people on the property and to give adequate warning of any hazards or unsafe conditions. What that means in any given situation is going to depend on a large number of factors. There is no one-size-fits-all requirement.

For example, a store placing a “wet floor sign” by a spill while an employee cleans it up may be reasonable, but placing a “wet floor sign” and leaving the spill for an hour may not be. In any case, the court or the jury is going to consider factors such as:

  • The location of the property;
  • The likelihood of someone encountering the condition which caused the injury;
  • The likelihood of someone suffering the injury;
  • The probable severity of the harm that someone might suffer;
  • The length of time the condition had been there;
  • The difficulty of protecting against the risk of harm;
  • The cost of remedying the condition;
  • How much control the person had over the property;
  • The reason the injured person was on the premises

In a Premises Liability case, having a skilled attorney to be able to present the argument over why someone else did not act reasonably is of the utmost importance.

What Should I do if I am injured on someone else’s property?

First and foremost, if you are injured, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. It is important to tell your medical providers exactly how you were injured. Not only will knowing the exact mechanism of your injury help your medical providers in assessing and treating your injuries, but it also will serve as further evidence that the accident happened.

 

Often times, one of the first defenses that an insurance company asserts is to say that the incident never happened. That is why it is important to document the accident as much as possible.

 

TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS. It cannot be stressed enough how important photographs are in a premises liability case. Everyone has a cell phone with a camera. If you are injured because of a condition on someone else’s property, usually the best evidence you can get are clear photographs depicting that condition. The old adage could not be more true: a picture is worth a thousand words. A good, clear photograph of a dangerous condition will always be better evidence than a person describing what caused his or her injury. And if you do not take photographs at the time of the incident, the property owner can often correct the problem after the incident so that no photographs can ever be taken.

 

If possible, file a report with the property owner. Usually stores and other commercial buildings will have a procedure for taking incident reports. Again, it is important to document what occurred as soon as possible after the incident. Notifying the property owner will help when trying later to locate witnesses, video footage or other evidence to support your claim.

 

And speaking of witnesses, again if possible, you should get the names and contact information of anyone who saw the incident and, if in a commercial establishment, the names of the employees working at the time of your incident.

What if the insurance company says it was my fault?

In any Premises Liability case, the insurance company is going to try to find a reason why it is your fault. Some of the common defenses you will hear is the “you should have been watching where you are going” or “your shoes did not have enough tread on them.” Just because an insurance company tells you it was your fault though does not mean you do not have a case. It is always important to have an accident attorney review the case and give you advice that is for you. The insurance company is looking out only for themselves.

It is true that everyone has an obligation to conduct themselves as a reasonably prudent person would under the circumstances, but that does not absolve the property owner of liability. The property owner still has to maintain the premises in a safe condition. There was an old California case where an intoxicated man was injured when he encountered an unsafe toilet and the defense tried to argue it was entirely his fault. The court said: “A drunken man is as much entitled to a safe [toilet], as a sober one, and much more in need of it.” So while we do not advocate getting intoxicated, the principle is an important one. Just because an injured party did something that a reasonable person may not have done, that does not mean the property owner is excused from his or her duty to make the property safe.

In those situations, it becomes an issue of comparative fault. What that means is that a jury will be instructed to assign a percentage of fault to the injured person and a percentage to the property owner (i.e. 50-50, 90-10, 75-25, etc.). The injured person’s damages then would be reduced by that percentage. Thus, for example if an injured person had $100,000 in damages and was found 10% at fault, then he or she would only be entitled to $90,000.

What am I entitled to?

Once you are able to prove that someone else was responsible for the accident, the question turns to what you are entitled to receive as compensation. As far as that is concerned, you are entitled to compensation for any damages that were caused by the accident. Though this sounds straightforward, it often is very nuanced and can require a skillful slip and fall/trip and fall attorney to get the full value.

The first category of damages is called special or economic damages. These are essentially your out of pocket losses and include items like medical expenses, lost earnings, and lost earning capacity. They are items that can be determined by referenced to documentation like medical bills, paystubs and earnings records. It is important to gather the evidence and documentation that not only proves the amount of these damages, but also just importantly, proves that the damages were the result of the accident and not some other cause.

Premises Liability cases often involve very severe injuries. Although soft tissue injuries like sprains and strains, contusions, cuts, and bruises occur regularly, if you are injured on someone else’s property, you at increased risk for more severe injuries like:

  • Broken bones
  • Spinal injuries
  • Torn ligaments
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Amputations
  • Paralysis
  • Wrongful death

When you have an injury that is severe, it is more important than ever to have an injury attorney representing you to make sure you get all the compensation to which you are entitled.

The second category of damages is called general or non-economic damages. There are not as easy to calculate because there is no documentation which states their amount. Rather, they compensate for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, impairment, inconvenience, grief, anxiety, humiliation and emotional distress. Again, having a talented accident attorney on your side can help make the case for the severity of your general damages.

With our experience protecting the rights of individuals harmed by the negligence and misconduct of others, Beckerman Anderson, APC, will zealously represent you if you have been injured. Our attorneys have collected millions of dollars for injured victims. If you’ve been injured and need the help of an accident attorney to get you the compensation you deserve, call (877) LAW-3434.

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