Slip and fall injuries are typically associated with spilled beverages and freshly mopped floors. But the truth is that a serious fall can happen anywhere, which is why property owners have a duty to inspect their premises for invitees—and that includes parking lots and garages. If a property owner fails to take reasonable measures to ensure their premises are reasonably safe, they may be held liable for any accidents that result.
Poor lighting, slick surfaces, cracked concrete, inadequate signage—these are just a few hazards that can cause trip, slip, and fall injuries. If you or someone you love was hurt in a parking lot or garage and you intend to bring a premises liability claim, read on to learn a few important facts about these cases:
1. The Plaintiff Must Be Able to Prove Either “Actual” or “Constructive” Knowledge
Even if the property owner or management was not aware of the hazard that caused your fall, you may still be entitled to damages. When a property owner (or one of their employees) knows about a dangerous condition, this is called “actual knowledge.” When a dangerous condition should have been discovered through the exercise of reasonable care, this is called “constructive knowledge.”
If you were an invitee at the time of the injury—as opposed to a licensee or trespasser—the property owner would have had a duty to perform regular inspections of the premises to identify dangerous conditions. In many cases, a resourceful attorney can uncover evidence that the dangerous condition had existed for a sufficient amount of time to have been discovered through such inspections. This would mean the property owner had constructive knowledge of the hazard.
Evidence of constructive knowledge may include:
- Surveillance Footage: If the property or a nearby business had a surveillance system, its footage might show that the dangerous condition had been present for several weeks before the injury. If the property owner refuses to relinquish this footage voluntarily, your lawyer may be able to obtain it by filing a subpoena.
- Eyewitness Deposition: Anyone who saw the accident might be deposed regarding what transpired. If you were able to write down the contact information of any eyewitnesses, bring it with you to your legal consultation.
- The Incident Report: It’s not uncommon for a property owner or manager to say one thing at the scene but then change their story to protect themselves from liability. This is why it’s important to have an incident report created immediately after a slip and fall. If the defendant’s story changes, this report might be used to prove inconsistencies in their account of events.
2. Medical Bills and Lost Income Aren’t the Only Damages That Might Be Available
Your immediate concern after the accident may have been the cost of medical bills and the loss of income. While these direct expenses may be recoverable, it is important that you don’t overlook other economic and non-economic damages. Depending on the circumstances, the following damages may be available after a slip and fall in a parking lot or garage:
- Future Healthcare Costs: In addition to the medical bills you’ve already incurred, you may also be able to seek compensation for anticipated healthcare costs. Proving such damages may require the retention by your attorney of a life care planner and other medical experts.
- Loss of Future Earning Capacity: Some slip and fall injuries are so severe that the victim is unable to return to the same occupation. If your income-earning capacity has been reduced, it may be possible to obtain compensation for the loss of future income.
- Other Economic Losses: Domestic assistance, transportation, child care, and other economic damages may be recoverable if they were necessary, reasonable, and caused by the tort.
- Pain and Suffering: Serious injuries are often accompanied by debilitating pain and suffering.
- Loss of Life Enjoyment: If your condition is preventing you from enjoying social events, familial activities, and favorite hobbies, it may be possible to recover hedonic damages.
- Loss of Consortium: Your husband or wife may be entitled to damages for loss of consortium if your injury has caused them a loss of intimacy, affection, assistance, care, comfort, or society.
3. Your Recovery Might Be Reduced If Your Own Negligence Played a Role
A common defense used in slip and fall cases is that the victim’s own negligence somehow contributed to their injury. If comparative negligence applies to your case, your financial recovery would be reduced by your own percentage of fault. A skilled attorney may be able to help you counter such a defense using surveillance footage, eyewitness deposition, and other evidence of liability.
4. Valuable Evidence Might Be Time-Sensitive
You won’t be able to obtain a financial recovery unless you can prove liability, causation, and damages. Unfortunately, much of the evidence needed to prove your claim might only be available for a short period of time after the accident. For example, if a surveillance system recorded the incident, that footage might eventually be overwritten or deleted. It is also possible for the dangerous condition that caused your fall to be repaired before it can be documented. To ensure your case is as strong as possible, it is important that your attorney is able to begin the investigation right away.
5. Your Social Media Content Could Harm Your Case
It is common for slip and fall victims to reach out to friends and family shortly after their accident, but you should not use social media to do so. The property owner or their insurance company might use your posts to dispute your claim. In fact, it is a good idea to deactivate your accounts until the conclusion of your case. At the very least, you should update your privacy settings and decline any connection requests from people whom you do not recognize.
Discuss Your Claim with a Long Beach Slip and Fall Lawyer
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
Michael D. Waks is an accomplished trial attorney with many years of experience representing slip and fall victims. Michael can help you navigate every stage of the proceedings and fight for the compensation you need to get your life back. Call (562) 206-1939 to schedule a free consultation, or send us a message on our Contact Page.