Slips and falls have the potential to cause serious injuries including bone fractures, head trauma, and spinal cord damage. When a facility that caters to customers in-house—a bar, restaurant, or grocery store, for example—fails to clean up spilled liquids in a timely manner, they expose everyone on site to an injury risk.
Thankfully, those who do get hurt may have legal recourse. If you slipped at a business establishment because employees failed to mop up or mark off a spill, here’s what you should know about proceeding with a personal injury claim:
1. Who Might Be Responsible for the Damages I Incur After Slipping & Falling?
Generally speaking, property owners are responsible for maintaining their premises to a reasonably safe standard. If they rent out the space, though, the duty to maintain the premises may shift (at least in part) to the tenant. Other parties who might be liable for slips and falls include property managers and maintenance contractors.
Whether you have grounds for a claim against the owner, the property manager, the possessor, or the maintenance contractor will depend on the terms of any agreements that are in place. A personal injury lawyer can investigate your case and identify all potentially liable parties.
2. What Evidence Can Be Used to Prove Liability for Slips and Falls on Spilled Liquids?
In order to build a strong premises liability claim, you will need evidence to prove how the liable party knew—or should have known—about the spill but failed to address it in a timely manner, or failed to post adequate warnings. You may be able to do using:
- Surveillance footage,
- Eyewitness deposition,
- The incident report,
- Photographs of the scene, and
- The liable party’s standard operating procedures and scheduling practices.
3. What Kinds of Economic Damages Should I Be Tracking If I Intend to Take Legal Action?
In the state of California, personal injury claimants may seek compensation for the economic damages they incur including:
- Medical expenses,
- Home care,
- Replacement services,
- Lost wages,
- Loss of future earnings, and
- Home and vehicle modifications necessary for accommodating disabilities.
You can track these damages by saving relevant bills, receipts, and invoices. Examples include hospital bills, pay stubs, and quotes from contractors.
4. How Can I Prove the Extent of the Non-Economic Damages I Incur?
In addition to economic damages, California allows for the recovery of non-economic damages. Examples include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment in life.
Naturally, proving such damages poses a challenge because they’re intangible, so they cannot be quantified solely by using receipts and invoices. You can, however, demonstrate their severity by keeping a personal injury journal.
Premises liability attorneys encourage their clients to write detailed entries about the ways in which their injuries are affecting their everyday lives. You can also use this journal to track your recovery by writing about doctor’s appointments, surgeries, and physical therapy sessions.
Deposition from friends, loved ones, and colleagues may also help your attorney prove non-economic damages. These parties can provide insight into the ways in which the incident has affected your mood, demeanor, and behavior.
5. If the Liable Party Is Uncooperative, How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?
If the party responsible for your injuries—or their insurance company—refuses to offer a fair settlement, filing a formal lawsuit may be the only way to pursue the compensation you deserve. In this scenario, it’s important to remember that you have a limited amount of time to file suit.
California’s standard statute of limitations for personal injury suits is two years. That means you probably have two years from the date on which you slipped and fell to file suit.
Because there are a number of exceptions to this filing deadline, though, it’s wise to consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. For example, if it turns out a government entity is liable for the accident, you may have just six months to commence the proceedings by submitting notice of your claim to the appropriate agency.
6. What If I Played a Role in Causing the Slip & Fall Accident?
If you were partially liable for the slip and fall, it may still be possible to recover damages; however, it is unlikely that you will be able to recover compensation for 100 percent of your losses. California has a pure comparative fault rule, which means the plaintiff’s own negligence offsets the defendant’s liability. In other words, the final payout will be reduced by your own percentage of fault, but you can recover even if you were more than 51 liable for the accident.
7. Should I Hire an Attorney to Help with My Personal Injury Claim?
While it’s entirely possible to file a premises liability claim on your own, it’s advisable to seek legal counsel. One mistake could be enough to jeopardize your entire case. Also, insurance companies tend to be more cooperative when a claimant hires a seasoned trial lawyer.
A knowledgeable attorney can:
- Handle all correspondence with the opposing party,
- Prevent you from making critical mistakes,
- Interview eyewitnesses,
- Consult with relevant experts,
- Calculate your economic damages,
- Quantify your non-economic damages,
- Negotiate for a settlement, and
- Prepare your case for litigation if a settlement is not reached through the initial negotiations.
Call (562) 206-1939 for a Free Consultation with a Long Beach Premises Liability Attorney
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
If you slipped and fell on someone else’s property because it was poorly maintained, contact the Law Office of Michael D. Waks. We will conduct a thorough investigation to help you gather the evidence needed to prove liability and damages against all responsible parties.
Michael Waks has the experience and resources to go up against even the largest corporations and insurers. He will see your case through to the end, even if that means going all the way to trial. Call (562) 206-1939 or fill out our Contact Page to schedule a free consultation with a premises liability lawyer in Long Beach. We’re available 24/7 to take your call.
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