If you slipped and fell on someone else’s property because the lighting was inadequate, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. Property owners and occupiers have a legal obligation to maintain their premises to a reasonably safe standard, and failing to ensure adequate lighting often constitutes a breach of this duty.
Serious injuries can happen when property owners fail to provide sufficient lighting in parking lots, entranceways, hallways, stairwells, and other high-traffic areas. When such injuries occur, the property owner or occupier may be financially liable for the resulting medical costs, lost income, and other damages.
Just because you were hurt on someone else’s poorly lit property, however, doesn’t mean you’re automatically entitled to compensation. In order to recover a payout, you must put together a strong premises liability claim.
Let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about these cases:
1. What Causes Inadequate Lighting?
There are a number of scenarios that can leave a residential complex, business establishment, or commercial facility with inadequate lighting. If there are no emergency lights or backup generators, for example, a simple power outage is all it will take to pose a major hazard.
Other common causes of inadequate lighting include:
- Dimming the lights or turning them off entirely to save electricity, even if people are still inside;
- Failing to replace burnt out or broken bulbs;
- Failing to install enough light fixtures for the size and configuration of the building; and
- Failing to repair damaged light fixtures.
2. What Kinds of Injuries Can Result from Inadequate Lighting?
Dim—or nonexistent—lighting can contribute to all kinds of injuries. Not only does it hinder visibility, thereby obscuring hazardous obstacles that would otherwise be apparent, but it also creates the perfect environment for robbers to take advantage of unsuspecting victims.
When it comes to slip and fall accidents in particular, some of the most common injuries that can result include:
- Spinal fractures;
- Slipped discs;
- Pinched nerves;
- Torn ligaments;
- Torn tendons;
- Traumatic brain injury;
- Broken hips; and
- Broken limbs.
While some of these injuries are relatively minor, others have the potential to cause permanent damage. Senior citizens are especially vulnerable to catastrophic injury—and even death—when they slip and fall.
3. Who Might Be Liable for a Slip and Fall Caused by Inadequate Lighting?
If you slipped and fell because of dim lighting, there are several parties that could be responsible for your injuries. While you might first assume that the property owner is liable, that may not necessarily be the case.
If you fell at a business establishment that was leasing the space, for example, the tenant may be liable. Generally speaking, lessees have at least some duty of care to maintain the premises out of which they operate, even if they don’t actually own the property.
Regardless of whether you end up bringing the claim against the property owner or the tenant, though, you’ll have to demonstrate the following elements to prove liability:
- You were lawfully allowed to be on the property when the accident occurred (i.e. you were not trespassing);
- The lighting was so inadequate that it created a hazardous condition;
- The defendant knew or should have known about the lighting but failed to address it; and
- The slip and fall that caused your injuries would not have occurred but for the inadequate lighting.
4. What Kinds of Evidence Might Contribute to My Premises Liability Claim?
A resourceful legal team can help you gather the evidence needed to build your case. The strongest proof of liability will ultimately depend on the circumstances but may include:
- Photographs of the scene where you slipped and fell;
- Deposition from individuals who witnessed the accident;
- Medical records verifying your injuries are consistent with those of a fall;
- Surveillance footage of the accident;
- The facility’s standard operating procedures and maintenance records; and
- Any past building code violations that demonstrate a pattern of negligence.
5. What Kinds of Damages Can I Seek by Filing a Premises Liability Claim?
In the state of California, personal injury claimants may pursue compensation for the following damages:
- Medical Expenses: Plaintiffs can seek compensation for both past medical bills and future costs of care. They can also pursue funds for medical equipment, prescription drugs, ongoing rehabilitation, home care, and other relevant products and services that their condition requires.
- Lost Earnings: If your injuries keep you out of work, you may be able to recover funds for your lost wages. And if you’re unable to return to the workforce at all, you can seek compensation for loss of earning capacity.
- Other Economic Damages: If you have to modify your home and vehicle to accommodate any resulting disabilities, the party liable for your injuries should cover the cost of doing so. You may also be entitled to compensation for child care, domestic assistance, and other services.
- Non-Economic Damages: California allows for the recovery of non-economic damages like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment in life.
6. What Is the Difference Between an Invitee and Licensee?
The specific duty of care owed to a property visitor depends on that person’s visitor status. The three categories of visitor status in California are invitee, licensee, or trespasser.
If you were on the premises for business dealings, you would have been an invitee, meaning the property owner would have had a duty to inspect the premises for dangerous conditions and to remedy those conditions or warn you about them. If you were a licensee—such as a social guest—there would not have been a duty of inspection; however, the property owner or occupier would have had to notify you about known dangerous conditions.
Speak with a Long Beach Premises Liability Attorney
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
At the Law Office of Michael D. Waks, we understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll that unanticipated injuries can take on the whole family. If you slipped and fell on someone else’s property because it was poorly maintained, we will help you determine the most strategic way to proceed.
From the moment you call our office to the day your case is resolved, you will be treated with the utmost respect, professionalism, and compassion. Dial (562) 206-1939 or send us an email to set up a free consultation with a premises liability lawyer in Long Beach. We’re available 24/7 to take your call.
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