Who is Liable if you Slip and Fall in a Store?
If you are injured by a slip and fall accident in a store, the owner, landlord, management company, or possibly even a maintenance company may be liable. However, if the other party can show that you were responsible for your fall, you may be liable instead. A lot of factors can impact who ultimately pays for the damages caused by a fall injury. The best thing to do is to talk with a Los Angeles slip and fall lawyer as soon as possible after an accident.
How someone can be liable for a slip and fall in California
Liability for a slip and fall accident arises when someone who has control of the property is negligent. In everyday terms, “negligence” means failing to be careful. In legal terms, it means that the defendant had a duty to do or not do something; that he breached that duty; and that the accident causing the injury was logically related to the breach of duty.
In California, businesses are generally liable for the negligence of their employees. If a worker ignored a spill or failed to place a wet floor sign and it led to a customer’s fall injury, the business will be liable. However, if there is no evidence that the store or its workers acted carelessly, the store may not be legally responsible. Since negligence is a critical part of a personal injury claim, slip & fall attorneys examine every potential party and the role that their actions played in a fall injury.
What a slip and fall plaintiff must prove in CA
When it comes to slip and fall injuries, shopkeepers or others with control of the property may be found negligent if they:
- Created a hazard or
- Did not create a hazard but knew or reasonably should have known that it existed
- Failed to fix the hazard or
- Failed to warn those who enter the store about the hazard.
Usually, it is the store employees who have the responsibility to make sure the property is in a safe condition. However, a property manager may be responsible for the parking lot or common areas, and cleaning or maintenance companies may be to blame when their work causes an unsafe condition.
Some common examples of negligence leading to slips and falls include failing to place a “Wet Floor” sign to caution patrons after mopping a floor and waiting an unreasonably long time to clean up a spill after being notified by a customer. However, these are not the only ways liability can arise so discuss the circumstances of your fall with a lawyer to get an understanding of any unique factors in your case.
Evidence that shows liability for a slip and fall
Knowing who is legally responsible for your injury is not enough; you must be able to prove liability with evidence. Between your own document-gathering and a process called discovery, you will need evidence to show:
- Who was responsible for the condition of the premises
- The condition of the premises at the time of your injury
- Who created the hazard
- Whether the store employees or someone else who was responsible for the property know about the hazard and have the chance to fix it
- That the hazard caused your injury
- The seriousness of and loss caused by your injury
Some things that can help you prove your case are:
- Photographs of the location
- Names and addresses of witnesses
- Names of employees on duty at the time
- Copies of any reports about complaints of unsafe conditions that the store or landlord received
- Employee manuals that explain the procedure that employees should follow if there is a hazard
- Contracts between the store or landlord and any businesses that are responsible for maintenance or cleaning
- Medical summaries or hospital discharge papers
- Medical bills related to the fall
- Medical records that show that the injury was caused by the fall and not a pre-existing injury
- Evidence to address special issues that arise such as a claim that you created the hazard yourself or that the location was not build to code
Your attorney will focus on addressing these issues when speaking with insurance companies, drafting court documents, and gathering evidence.
Do not wait to speak with a Southern California lawyer
Your case will be stronger when you are proactive. The longer you wait to take action after a slip and fall, the more likely it is that records will go missing and witnesses’ memories will fade. Talk to a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your slip and fall injury to preserve your legal options.
The team at Ellis Injury Law is here to help. We are committed to serving those who have been harmed by other peoples’ carelessness. It can be intimidating going up against a big business or their even bigger insurance company but when you work with us, we handle that battle for you. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.