Can a Building Code Violation Help Prove Liability for my Slip and Fall Accident?
State and local building codes in California provide minimum construction and maintenance standards for safety and security. If a visitor or guest in the building or any surrounding property slips and falls and suffers an injury as a result of a building code violation, that violation will be strong evidence of the owner’s liability for the injured party’s losses and expenses. In almost every case, however, the slip and fall accident victim will need to show more than just a code violation to recover damages from the building owner.
For more than 25 years, the slip and fall lawyers at Ellis Injury Law in Los Angeles have helped residents of Southern California to recover damages from negligent building owners that are aware of building code violations but have done nothing to remedy them. Our attorneys delve into the details of every slip and fall case to show how accidents could have been prevented if building owners had fulfilled their obligations to provide safe properties.
How does a slip and fall attorney show a building owner’s negligence?
An attorney will focus on three elements to prove a property owner’s liability for damages in a slip and fall case.
- Did a condition on the property expose guests and other persons that were invited to use the property to an unreasonable risk of harm? A building code violation, including, for example, missing or loose handrails on steps and uneven or broken flooring, will generally be considered as something that poses unreasonable harm.
- Did the building owner know about the risk of harm or could the owner have discovered it through regular inspections? The owner will have actual knowledge if he or she received a notice of a building code violation from city or state building inspectors. In other southern California cases in which no official notices of violations have been issued, a Los Angeles slip and fall lawyer will establish the owner’s knowledge through maintenance records and witness testimony.
- Did the owner fail to remedy the violation or take reasonable steps to warn guests and invites of risks and dangers? If an owner is unable to promptly fix a dangerous building condition, the owner must alert guests and invitees to the hazard or erect barriers to keep people away from it.
Does the injured party bear any responsibility for building code slip and fall injuries?
California law applies a form of comparative negligence that will reduce the amount of damages that a slip and fall accident victim can recover in proportion to the victim’s own responsibility for injuries in an accident. Because of this, a building owner and the owner’s liability insurers might argue that a code violation, such as a missing stairwell handrail or a broken step, were obvious and apparent and that the accident victim failed to pay adequate attention to the risks in a particular situation. The party that presents stronger evidence on relative fault will often prevail. A slip and fall accident victim can push back against a building owner’s claims by collecting and retaining as much evidence as is possible after the mishap, including photographs of the accident site and the hazard that caused the fall, witness contact information, medical records for treatment of any injuries, and recollections of lighting and weather conditions around the accident site.
A lawyer might also gather building inspection records and reports of other code violations both in the building where the accident happened and in other buildings under common ownership. Those records might show a pattern of lax maintenance and poor compliance with repair requirements after building code violation notices have been issued.
When should an injured slip and fall accident victim file a personal injury lawsuit?
The California statute of limitations requires injured parties to file their personal injury lawsuits within two years after the date of an accident. In practice, an injured slip and fall accident victim will always have a better opportunity to recover the largest available damages awards if he or she initiates a lawsuit as soon as is possible after an accident. Over time, building code violations might be corrected, witness memories will fade, and other evidence will dissipate.
Call Ellis Injury Law for answers to slip and fall liability questions involving building code violations
Please see our website or call Ellis Injury Law to speak with a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer about your building code slip and fall accident. We offer no-fee consultations in injury and accident cases. If you retain our services and we accept your case, we will earn our fees from the damages that we collect for you and you will pay no direct upfront fees or expenses for our representation.