Guide By – Slip and Fall Attorney Los Angeles Residents Can Rely On
Every year, thousands of slip and fall accidents occur in the United States. A slip and fall accident occurs when a person loses his or her balance due to a slippery surface or because they trip over an object or an uneven surface on a certain property. These accidents arise due to a wide variety of circumstances, which range from wet or slippery floors to poorly lit stairways, unsafe terraces and balconies, poorly equipped showers and bathtubs, and other dangerous conditions. Cherepinskiy Law Firm is the slip and fall attorney Los Angeles residents can trust to obtain justice on their behalf. This firm is a vigorous fighter on behalf of the victims of slip and fall accidents.
Property owners have a duty to maintain their property in a condition, which is safe for those people who have been invited there. An unsafe condition can lead to catastrophic consequences, including serious injuries or even fatalities. Victims of falls may end up with significant bills for medical care as well as lost income due to missed work. Each slip and fall incident involves unique facts and circumstances. In order to find out if you are entitled to compensation for the negligence of a property owner, consult a Los Angeles slip and fall lawyer.
If a property owner knew or should have known that a dangerous condition existed on their premises and failed to fix this defect, this owner will be required to compensate you for your injuries or the death of a loved one. However, insurance companies will look for every excuse to either pay a minimal settlement or deny your claim entirely. Slip and fall accidents are complex and aggressively defended. You should never have to deal with such claims on your own. It is extremely important to have a skilled attorney who will fight for justice on your behalf. This firm’s extensive courtroom, litigation, and trial expertise make it a force to be reckoned with. Cherepinskiy Law Firm uses unique legal strategies and modern technology to successfully pursue every case from the initial investigation through trial and to hold wrongdoers accountable.
Slip and Fall Accident Statistics: Introduction By – Los Angeles Premises Liability Lawyer
Based on the data from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”), the National Floor Safety Institute, the National Security Council Injury Facts, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the statistics with respect to slip and fall accidents in the United States are as follows:
- Falls constitute one of the main causes of accidental fatalities and injuries in the United States.
- Annually, approximately 3 million accidents involving falls occur in the United States.
- Every year, trip and fall as well as slip and fall accidents result in over 17,000 fatalities – approximately 15 percent of all accidental deaths in the U.S. The high number of fatalities makes slip / trip and fall accidents the second highest cause of accidental death in the United States (after motor vehicle accidents).
- More than 1 million emergency room (ER) visits take place as a result of trip / slip and fall injuries.
- In a fall accident, elderly individuals (over 65 years of age) are four times more likely to die than younger fall victims. In the elderly age group, over 45% of fatalities and over 86% of fractures are caused by fall incidents.
- Approximately 30% of victims of slip / trip and fall accidents sustain injuries. This type of accidents is one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries.
- Close to 5% of fall incidents result in fractures.
- Every year, flooring materials and floor surfaces constitute a direct cause of over 2 million fall-related injuries.
- Big department stores, shopping malls, condominium complexes, and apartment buildings are frequently subject to slip and fall lawsuits arising out of their negligent failure to maintain premises in safe condition.
- Nearly 15% of work-related fatalities and 22% of extensive work absences (exceeding one month) occur as a result of trip / slip and fall accidents. The majority (approximately 60%) of these fall-related accidents occur in the service industry, and over 15,000 of falls take place in the manufacturing industry.
The statistical data is alarming. It is crucial that owners of residential, business and commercial property take steps aimed at preventing slip and fall accidents. Regular inspections and maintenance are critically important in making sure dangerous conditions are repaired or removed before a catastrophic or fatal accident occurs. The Los Angeles premises liability lawyer at Cherepinskiy Law Firm is ready to investigate any violations of maintenance and inspection requirements.
Locations of Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents, including trip and fall accidents, can occur in essentially any setting, including the following common locations:
- Amusement parks
- Apartment buildings
- Coffee shops
- Condominium complexes
- Construction sites
- Department stores
- Educational institutions (schools, colleges, universities)
- Fast food restaurants
- Ice cream parlors
- Gas stations
- Grocery stores
- Office buildings
- Parking garages
- Parking lots
- Public restrooms
- Shopping malls
- Swimming pools
Types of Dangerous Conditions on Premises
Typically, slip and fall accidents occur as a result of the following dangerous conditions:
- Cracked walking surfaces
- Cracked floors
- Cracked cement and concrete sidewalks
- Damaged walking surfaces
- Broken glass
- Tree branches
- Negligently maintained floors, walkways, and sidewalks
- Wet floors
- Plumbing leaks
- Spills of liquids (e.g. water, juices, soda, ice cream, oil, etc.)
- Dangerous bathroom and pool conditions
- No warnings “slippery when wet”
- No anti-slip strips on steps
- No handrails or broken handrails
- No mats on the floor
- No mats inside bathtubs
- Dangerous stairways
- Steep staircases without handrails
- Slippery steps
- Poorly lit stairwells
- Unsafe terraces and balconies
- Dangerously low safety rails
- Poorly secured railings and barriers
- Uneven floor surfaces
- Uneven sidewalk surfaces
- Uneven pavements
The above dangerous conditions can occur either (1) due to an unsafe and defective construction (i.e. the defects have been present since the construction of the property or (2) because of the property owner’s negligent failure to maintain the premises in safe condition (e.g. the failure to clean or perform necessary repairs).
Types of Slip and Fall Injuries
A slip and fall accident may lead to serious and catastrophic injuries, as well as a fatality. The following is the listing of the most common injuries that can be caused by a dangerous condition on the premises:
- Amputation and loss of limbs
- Back and neck injuries
- Blindness and eye injuries
- Crush Injuries
- Cuts and scrapes
- Disfigurement and permanent scarring
- Fractures and broken bones (non-displaced, displaced, and compound fractures)
- Hearing Loss
- Hematomas (Internal bleeding)
- Internal injuries
- Joint Damage
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Skin Injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Spinal cord injury and paralysis
- Traumatic brain injury (“TBI”)
- Wrongful death
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a slip and fall accident, you need the assistance of the best slip and fall attorney in Los Angeles who will retain the best-qualified experts and present the most compelling case aimed at achieving the maximum level of compensation.
Proving Liability in a Slip and Fall Case
Under California law, in each slip and fall case, a successful proof of liability requires that the following three elements are established:
1. The property owner had a duty to exercise reasonable care (this obligation is commonly referred the “duty of care”).
2. The property owner breached the obligation to exercise reasonable care.
3. The injuries suffered by the victim of the fall were caused by the property owner’s breach of the duty of care.
Property Owner’s Duty of Care
A property owner is obligated to maintain his or her property in a reasonably safe condition. If there is a dangerous condition on the premises, the property owner must either correct or remove this dangerous condition or warn others of its existence.
Property owners as well as other business entities or individuals who have ownership, possession, or control of the property (e.g. those who rent or lease the property) – owe a duty to act with reasonable and ordinary care in the management of their property. Specifically, reasonable care must be exercised to prevent exposure of others to unreasonable risks of harm. Vasilenko v. Grace Family Church, 248 Cal. App. 4th 146, 153 (2016).
This duty of care extends to any person who is welcomed to the property in question. In addition to those people who are invited to the property for the owner’s financial benefit – such as hotel guests, restaurant patrons or supermarket shoppers, property owners owe a duty of care to social guests as well. Municipalities (city or town governments) owe a duty of care to anyone who uses public property – for example, pedestrians using public sidewalks.
Property owners’ obligations include, but are not limited to, the following:
- perform regular inspections of the premises;
- perform routine and regular cleaning of the premises;
- perform regular maintenance of the premises;
- discover all dangerous conditions that can reasonably be discovered by performing careful inspections;
- correct all discovered dangerous conditions;
- if a hazardous condition cannot be corrected, repaired, or removed by reasonable efforts, issue warnings to visitors and guests.
Breach of the Duty of Care in Slip and Fall Accidents
This element is frequently the most difficult to prove. Under California law, property owners breached their duty to act with reasonable and ordinary care in the management of their property if all of these factors are present:
a. A dangerous condition existed on the property: The victim of a slip and fall accident will have to provide evidence showing that the condition in question was, in fact, dangerous or unsafe. Additionally, it will have to be shown that, at the time of the slip / trip and fall, the property was used in an intended and expected manner.
All property guests and visitors must use reasonable care in using the premises responsibly and watching where they are going. If it is demonstrated that the dangerous condition was so obvious that any reasonable person would have seen it, the victim may be found to be comparatively negligent. In some cases, the victims can be inattentive of distracted (e.g. looking at a smartphone), engage in risky activities (e.g. racing on a skateboard along a sidewalk). In other cases, the person who suffered a fall may not have noticed the posted warnings. If it is shown that the victim failed to exercise reasonable care, it will not completely absolve the property owner of all responsibility, but it will reduce the amount of compensation.
b. The property owner knew or should have known about the existence of this dangerous condition: This requirement is commonly known as the “notice” requirement. In order to prevail, the victim of a slip and fall accident does not necessarily need to prove that the property owner actually knew about the hazardous condition. It can be sufficient to show that the dangerous condition was present on the premises for a sufficiently long period of time that any reasonable owner would have discovered it. In fact, most cases involve circumstances where owners did not have actual knowledges of the hazardous condition but had enough time to learn of its existence.
In some cases, in order to prove notice, expert testimony is necessary to demonstrate that – for the particular type of property in question (e.g. a shopping mall, restaurant, or hotel) certain customary maintenance and / or cleaning procedures are performed on a regular basis. For example, at coffee shops or shopping malls that have beverage kiosks, spills occur frequently and are expected. If someone owns a coffee shop or a shopping mall, the owner would be expected to do what other reasonable coffee shop or shopping mall owners do – ensure that any spills are promptly cleaned up.
c. Prior to the occurrence of the injury, the company or individual who owns the property had an opportunity to either correct the condition or warn about its existence: The opportunity to either provide necessary repairs or warnings must be reasonable under the circumstances. For example, if a liquid spill occurred at a large shopping mall, unless the management was immediately informed about the spill, it may be difficult to prove that the spill had to be cleaned up within 2 minutes of its occurrence.
Proving property owner’s breach of the duty of care is not an easy endeavor. When analyzing liability issues, the following factors are significant:
- Was there a dangerous condition on the property in question?
- Was this dangerous or hazardous condition created by the property owner?
- Was there any legitimate reason for the hazardous condition to exist?
- Did the property owner have actual knowledge that the unsafe condition was present on the premises?
- Did similar accidents occur at the same premises?
- Should the property owner have known that the subject premises were unsafe?
- How long was the dangerous condition present before the accident occurred? Did it exist for a sufficiently long period that the owner should have discovered its presence?
- Under the same or similar circumstances, would a “reasonable” property owner have discovered the unsafe condition?
- Did the property owner have a reasonable opportunity to either correct the unsafe condition, create a barrier, or issue warnings?
- Did the lighting condition contribute to the occurrence of the accident? Was the area in question poorly lit due to broken or insufficient lighting?
- Did the property owner utilize scheduled procedures for routine maintenance, repair, and cleaning of the subject premises? If yes, is there sufficient documentation of these procedures (i.e. logs, schedules, and other documents).
Causation of Damages
Under California law, victims of slip and fall accidents must prove that the injuries suffered by them were actually caused or contributed to by the dangerous condition that was allowed to exist due to the property owner’s carelessness.
If You Need Medical Treatment – Do Not Delay Getting It
If you sustained an injury as a result of your fall, promptly seek medical attention. If it is a medical emergency, you must go or request to be taken to an emergency room (ER), urgent care clinic, or a walk-in clinic. Do not delay getting medical care! Insurance companies (as well as jurors at trial) frequently make the following assumption: if you did not make any effort to seek immediate medical care for your injuries – that means you did not really get hurt.
Also, when you do seek medical attention after a slip and fall accident explain in detail how you got injured. If there is an inconsistency between the description of your injuries in the medical records and your contentions – the property owner’s insurance company will be reluctant to pay anything to settle your claim. Should your case proceed to trial, an inconsistent claim is not going to be well-received by the jury.
For example, let’s assume that a person contends that he or she suffered a back injury after a slip and fall accident. However, the medical records show the following: when this person went to an urgent care clinic merely hours after the incident, he or she reported persistent back pain that had been present for months and did not report any recent history of trauma. Such a significant inconsistency would severely limit (if not completely eliminate) the likelihood of obtaining compensation through either a settlement or trial verdict.
Even if you have a history of a prior injury, disease, or pain involving the same area that was hurt in the accident (which is frequently called a “pre-existing condition”) – you are still entitled to be compensated for the aggravation of your condition. Therefore, if you got hurt as a result of a slip and fall accident, make certain that you advise your medical providers that you had an incident involving a fall.
Preserving Evidence in a Slip and Fall Accident
When circumstances permit, it is advisable to take the following steps to obtain and preserve valuable evidence:
- Photographs. These days, virtually all cell phones and all smart phones are equipped with cameras. It is important to take photos of the scene of the incident, including the dangerous condition, object, or liquid that caused you to slip and fall. You should also take photographs of your clothes, shoes, as well as your injuries (cuts, bruises, hematomas, stitches, splints, casts, etc.).
- Object that Caused the Fall. Save the specific object, which caused you to suffer a fall. For instance, if you slipped on a food item, put it in a plastic / Ziploc bag and place it in the freezer. Of course, if you slipped on a liquid (e.g. water, juice, melted ice cream), it will be impossible to preserve this item. That is why taking detailed photographs is very important.
- Shoes and Clothing. It is also a good idea to preserve the shoes and clothing, which you were wearing at the time when you suffered the fall. Place these items in a plastic bag and seal it. That way, any matter that got stuck to your shoe or the stains on your clothing from the spilled liquid will be well-preserved.
- Accident / Incident Report. Ask if the place where you sustained your fall has a practice of generating incident reports. Managers and security officers are good resources to initiate the accident report process. Typically, shopping malls and department stores have such a practice in place. The accident / incident report will provide a documentation of your version of the events surrounding the fall, and it will be very useful in pursuing your matter. Finally, before you leave the premises, ask for a copy of the report.
- Witnesses. If there are people who witnessed your fall, make efforts to obtain these individuals’ contact information, including names, addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mails.
If you did not obtain any witness statements and did not take any photographs, the Los Angeles slip and fall attorney at Cherepinskiy Law Firm will make best efforts to obtain and preserve as much evidence as reasonably possible under the circumstances. However, if you seek the assistance of a lawyer weeks or months after your accident, obtaining evidence becomes a significantly more challenging task because witnesses forget what they saw, scenes of accidents get cleaned up and repaired, and injuries heal. Although medical records do provide a documentation of injuries, witness statements, actual physical objects, and photographs are extremely important when proving your case at trial.
Reporting Slip and Fall Accidents
If you suffered an injury as a result of a slip and fall accident, you should promptly report it:
- The accident must be reported to the property owner: Whenever possible, try to report your fall directly to the owner of the property. Owners of smaller businesses, such as restaurants, are frequently present at the premises.
However, large-scale commercial properties are typically owned by corporations with complex business structures and hierarchies. Therefore, you are not likely to get an opportunity to speak with the owner a larger commercial property such as a shopping mall, dealership or a supermarket. In that case, ask to speak with the person in the highest position of authority – for example, a general manager, supervisor, or the head of security.
If the fall occurred on a public property (e.g. a sidewalk, park, etc.) – make sure the incident is promptly reported to the municipality where the fall took place.
- Report your accident immediately – do not delay: Preferably, you should make your report on the day of the incident or, at least, on the next day. When a verbal report is not possible, consider sending a letter advising the property owner / management of your fall. If you wait to make a report, it may seriously impact your chances of getting compensated for your injuries. This is especially true if nobody saw you fall – i.e. there are no witnesses. Insurance adjustors doubt the credibility of people who report their claims late and, if these cases ever get to trial, juries feel the same way.
- If you fill out an accident / incident report, make sure it is accurate: Many properties and commercial establishments have policies in place, which demand that anyone who is injured on their property – must complete an incident report. By law, you are not obligated to complete any incident report. If you feel reluctant about filling out and signing an incident report – never be too shy to refuse to do it. This is your right! However, if you end up completing an incident report, make certain that your description is accurate.
- Avoid providing recorded statements to insurance companies: A claims representative from an insurance company may request that you provide a recorded description of your accident and the injuries you sustained. By law, just like you do not have to fill out a written report for property owners – you are not obligated to provide a recorded statement to insurance adjustors. Therefore, if you have not yet hired an attorney to represent you in your slip and fall case, it is never advisable to provide any recorded statements to insurance companies.
What Damages Can be Recovered in Slip and Fall Accident Cases?
Victims of slip and fall accidents can claim the following two main types of damages: Non-Economic and Economic damages. In some situations, those who have been injured as a result of a slip or trip and fall accident may potentially seek Punitive Damages. For cases involving future care, the Los Angeles slip and fall accident lawyer at Cherepinskiy Law Firm retains top expert physicians, life care planners, and economists to evaluate clients’ needs and present the best case on their behalf. A detailed discussion of the recoverable damages is included on the Personal Injury Damages page of this website.
If a slip / trip and fall accident resulted in the death of a loved one, then compensation can be sought in a Wrongful Death action.
Take Action! Promptly Contact a Los Angeles Slip and Fall Lawyer for a Free Consultation
If you believe a property owner’s carelessness resulted in a dangerous condition and caused your injuries or a loved one’s death, please call or fill out an electronic contact form today to request a free consultation. Cherepinskiy Law Firm is the slip and fall lawyer Los Angeles residents can count on to fight for justice on their behalf. This firm will work in a tireless and compassionate manner in a personal injury or a wrongful death case to make sure you are compensated for your injuries and losses.
This firm fights for clients throughout California, including Los Angeles, Orange County, as well as Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.