Is My Slip and Fall Case Worth Pursuing?
March 4, 2015
As part of our personal injury law practice, Andrade Law Offices assists people who have been injured in slip and fall accidents. These cases include falls in which the client has been injured because of a hazard that the property owner has failed to warn about or correct at a store, office, public place, or private home.
Our lawyers work to make slip and fall victims financially whole after medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses associated with an accident. While everyone's injury matters, we cannot pursue every slip and fall case we hear about. Each accident has its own set of specific facts, but here are some general factors that we consider as we decide whether your slip and fall case can be pursued:
Can You Meet the Criteria for A Slip and Fall Claim?
In general, a successful slip and fall claim must show that:
The injured party had a legal right to be on the property
The property owner had a legal obligation to the plaintiff to ensure that the property was safe
The property owner (directly or through property managers or other employees) failed to fulfill this obligation
The injury was caused by a hazard on the property that existed because of the property owner's negligence
Compensation can help the injury victim recover from the injury.
Unless you are a trespasser, the first two points of consideration are usually a given. Property owners of all types have an obligation to keep their property safe and businesses are held to a higher standard because they are presumed to solicit visitors. If you were a trespasser, however, you may not be able to pursue a claim.
Was the Property Owner Negligent?
Assuming there is a hazard on a property, the owner is granted a reasonable amount of time to recognize that it exists and address it. For example, if you slip and fall in a puddle caused by the spill in a grocery store aisle and are injured, you may have a claim. But the store's staff has a reasonable amount of time to clean up the spill or put up a warning or barrier to the area if the spill cannot be cleaned up right away. What constitutes a “reasonable” amount of time or an adequate warning may be up to a jury.
Were You Negligent?
A property owner can only be held liable for a slip and fall accident if they were at fault. If you contributed to your accident, this may hurt your ability to pursue a claim. If you were running and slipped and fell, for example, or if it can be shown that you were looking at a cell phone instead of watching where you were walking when you encountered the hazard and fell, you might not have a claim. The law also protects the property owner in cases of obvious hazards that a reasonable person would know to avoid. The standard example of this is an open hole at a construction site, which most people would recognize as a potential danger.
It is also important to know that California abides by the doctrine of “comparable negligence” in personal injury cases. If your negligence was a “substantial factor” in causing your injury, by law, any compensation you would receive from a legal claim would be reduced accordingly. If a jury decided you were more than 50 percent to blame, you would not receive compensation.
Is Your Fall the Cause of Your Injury?
You must be able to demonstrate that the injury you seek compensation for was the direct result of your fall. First, this requires being able to document the fact that the fall happened. Did you report the fall to the property manager when it happened? Do you have photos or other evidence that the hazard that caused your fall existed? Typically an injury is demonstrated through medical records and/or the testimony of your treating physician. Reporting your fall and then seeing a doctor and obtaining medical treatment are among the most important steps to take after a slip and fall accident.
Are Your Injuries and Associated Losses Substantial?
A slip and fall claim typically seeks compensation for medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. To this, you must add the costs of filing and pursue a claim, plus legal fees, and determine whether the potential proceeds from a lawsuit make it worthwhile. If you were hospitalized for an injury and/or required a lengthy recovery, your losses are likely to be high and a lawsuit may be in order. On the other hand, if you were in and out of the emergency room in a few hours, the costs of pursuing a claim may make a lawsuit unreasonable.
You must also weigh the time and effort required of a lawsuit and the stress it entails. Personal injury lawsuits are usually lengthy undertakings that involve dealing with people on the other side who question your honesty and motivation.
If you think you have a slip and fall case that is worth pursuing, contact Andrade Law Offices to discuss it with us. An initial consultation is free and you never pay for our services unless we obtain compensation for you.
If we can pursue a slip and fall case on your behalf, we would like to do so and will fight for every dollar you have coming to you. If we don't think we can be successful for you, we will explain why and offer any alternative assistance we can provide.