Is a Homeowner Liable If I Slip and Fall at Their House?
A homeowner may be liable if you slip and fall at their house but their liability is not automatic. Instead, there must be evidence of the homeowner’s negligence or else they are not legally responsible for the resulting injury.
Proving negligence can be tricky in a slip and fall. The best way to prepare for this is to choose a seasoned Los Angeles slip and fall lawyer who is well-versed in premises liability lawsuits.
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Why is negligence required for a residential slip and fall in California?
There are two main reasons that you must prove that a homeowner was liable for a slip and fall injury. First, California does not hold homeowners strictly liable for personal injuries on their property. The legal system recognizes that there would be something unjust about making a homeowner who did absolutely nothing to cause an injury to pay for that injury.
You may wonder why homeowner negligence matters when most homes have insurance and that gets into the second reason you need to prove liability. Homeowners’ insurance policies are based on liability. Under the terms of the policies, which are valid and enforceable contracts, the insurance company only has an obligation to pay for losses caused by the insured homeowner’s wrongdoing. If the homeowner was not at fault, the claim would not trigger coverage under the policy.
Proving negligence for a slip and fall injury
In a personal injury action, the plaintiff has the burden to prove that:
- The defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff which required the defendant to do or not do something
- The defendant breached that duty
- The plaintiff was injured, suffering damages
- The breach was a proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury and damages
When it comes to a slip and fall injury, the plaintiff generally must show that the homeowner had a duty to keep the property safe from hazards or to warn visitors of hazards that the homeowner did or reasonably should have known about. The plaintiff also must show that the injury was a result of that negligence and that damages such as medical bills and lost income were caused by the fall.
If you were visiting a homeowner and have reason to believe that they either created a dangerous fall hazard or ignored one that they should have repaired, discuss your case with qualified slip & fall attorneys. The homeowner or their insurer may be responsible for your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other losses related to the fall.
Possible defendants in a residential slip and fall lawsuit
While the homeowner is the most likely defendant in a slip and fall case, there may be other liable parties. If someone else who had access to the property or the right to control a portion of it breached a duty to do so carefully, they may be responsible for any injuries that occur as a result. For example, consider if:
- the homeowner recently had their gutters replaced but the contractor’s poor job caused water to collect on the stairs, then the contractor may be liable
- the home is a condominium and the slip occurred in a common area, then the condo association may be liable
- the homeowner has a yard maintenance service remove leaves but its employee left a pile of wet leaves on a walkway to the house, opening up a claim against the maintenance company
In most cases, an insurance company may ultimately be responsible for paying the settlement or judgment but it will not usually be a party to the lawsuit. Instead, you will need to build your case for liability against the insured party.
It may be confusing to spot all of the potentially liable actors but a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer can help.
Get help you can trust
If you have been injured at someone else’s home, you may not know where to turn for help. The personal injury lawyers at Ellis Injury Law understand the complex issues that can arise when it comes to asserting liability when you have been a guest or a business visitor to another’s residence. We take a big-picture approach to spot all of the potential areas of liability and offer counsel based on decades of experience.
Call Ellis Injury Law today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.