If you are recovering from serious injuries after a slip and fall on someone else’s property, you have a limited amount of time to take legal action. While you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other resulting damages, you will lose the chance to file a lawsuit if you let the applicable deadline pass.
California’s standard statute of limitations for slip and fall lawsuits is two years. That means most plaintiffs have two years from the date on which they were hurt to file a formal suit if the opposing party proves uncooperative during settlement negotiations.
If the injuries were not immediately apparent, though, the filing deadline is typically reduced to one year from when they were discovered or should have been discovered through reasonable diligence. Shortened deadlines also apply to cases against government entities.
If you wish to sue a municipality or state agency, you may have to commence the proceedings in as little as six months. After filing your administrative claim, the government will have 45 days to respond. If they end up denying your claim, you will have six months from the date on which the rejection letter was mailed to bring your suit. If you never receive such a letter, though, you will have two years from when you slipped and fell to proceed to court.
It’s probably clear by now that there are a number of exceptions to the statute of limitations for slip and fall lawsuits in California. As such, it’s wise to seek legal counsel as soon as possible after getting hurt. If you assume that you have two years to bring a suit but the facts of the case prove otherwise, you could end up missing the deadline and the opportunity to recover damages.
Exceptions That Extend the Filing Deadline for Slip and Fall Lawsuits in California
In California, there are several scenarios when the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is tolled. If the victim was a minor at the time of injury, for example, the clock won’t start until his or her 18th birthday. In other words, minor plaintiffs might have until their 20th birthday to bring a suit.
In that same vein, the statute of limitations can be tolled if the victim was not mentally competent when the accident occurred. Even if he or she was over 18 at the time, an extended deadline may apply.
Another exception pertains to defendants who have recently declared bankruptcy. Filing a bankruptcy petition enacts an automatic stay, which essentially halts all legal action. If you intend to sue someone who’s in the throes of bankruptcy proceedings, you will have to wait until his or her bankruptcy is sorted out to proceed.
How Can I Increase My Chances of Filing a Successful Slip and Fall Lawsuit?
Regardless of the circumstances, every slip and fall case that yields a payout features strong evidence of liability, causation, and damages. As such, the most effective way to contribute to the strength of your claim is by finding ways to demonstrate these three elements. You should also make a concerted effort to avoid mistakes that would derail your case.
Naturally, the strongest evidence of liability will depend on the facts of the case. A resourceful attorney can help you determine what that evidence may be and then apply the legal pressure needed to obtain it. Chances are, you will need to gather some combination of the following:
- Photographs of the hazard in question that caused you to slip and fall;
- Deposition from eyewitnesses;
- Surveillance footage of the accident; and
- The property owner’s maintenance records.
As for proving damages, you should save all relevant bills, invoices, receipts, and statements. You should also start a personal injury journal. Detailed entries about the ways in which your injuries are affecting your everyday life will help illustrate the extent of your non-economic damages.
In the state of California, slip and fall victims are entitled to pursue compensation for both the economic and non-economic damages that they incur, which may include:
- Emergency medical costs;
- Ongoing treatment and/or rehabilitation;
- Anticipated health care expenses;
- Home care;
- Domestic help;
- Child care;
- Lost income and benefits;
- Loss of future earnings;
- Home and vehicle modifications;
- Property repairs;
- Alternative transportation;
- Pain and suffering;
- Loss of enjoyment in life; and
- Emotional distress.
While gathering evidence would certainly strengthen your claim, it won’t necessarily guarantee a payout. At the end of the day, legal proceedings are unpredictable, and disputes or complications can arise along the way.
If you take steps to mitigate such issues, though, you can increase the chances of securing a satisfactory settlement or verdict. Here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid:
- Using Social Media: The insurance adjuster may attempt to monitor your online presence for evidence to challenge your claim. As such, it’s wise to avoid posting altogether until your case is resolved. After all, there’s nothing stopping the opposing party from misinterpreting—or misrepresenting—your photos, videos, or statuses.
- Accepting Some Degree of Fault: Even if you think you were partially to blame for the accident—perhaps you ignored a “Wet Floor” sign because you were immersed in your phone—don’t state as much. Instead, let your legal team conduct a thorough investigation. You can then assign blame based on their findings.
- Giving a Recorded Statement: Don’t let the claims adjuster pressure you into providing a recorded statement. Let your attorney handle all dialogue with the insurance company.
Call (562) 206-1939 for a Free Consultation with a Long Beach Premises Liability Lawyer
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
If you intend to file a slip and lawsuit in California, contact the Law Office of Michael D. Waks. Our approach to the law is built on providing accident victims with the tailored legal solutions, attentive guidance, and straightforward answers they deserve. Call (562) 206-1939 or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free case evaluation with a premises liability attorney in Long Beach.