Top Rated Orange County Slip and Fall Attorney
Slip and fall accidents sound routine, but they are anything but that. Some victims can get back up with only minor injuries, and they are the fortunate ones. For roughly 20% of fall victims, the reality is much more unpleasant. They suffer serious injuries that require hospitalization and can lead to lasting impacts. If someone else was negligent, you are entitled to financial compensation for your injuries, and you should learn about your options from an Orange County personal injury lawyer.
Are Stores and/or Homeowners Liable for Customer/Guest Injuries?
The first thing you need to know is whether a store owner or homeowner may be liable for your injuries. In order for them to be liable, your injuries must have resulted from a landowner’s negligence. For example, there was a dangerous condition on the property. The landowner was aware of this condition and did not take the steps necessary to fix and/or warn others of it.
The person liable for the injuries would have to either own, lease or otherwise control the property where the injuries occurred. This is important to determine who would be paying for your injuries.
3 Common Examples of Slip and Fall Accidents:
- Slipping on a wet floor after it had been mopped, but no warning signs were put up.
- Tripping on a defective tile that the landowner knew about and hadn’t fixed.
- Tripping on a defective sidewalk. For example, a huge chunk of the sidewalk is missing. Or a sidewalk is uneven because of a tree root.
Those are all common occurrences that cause trip and fall and slip and fall cases. These are also referred to as premise liability cases.
Where You Could Be Hurt in a Slip and Fall
Slip and falls can happen in several different places:
- In a store, where there is a spill or debris in the aisle
- In the hallway in your apartment building when the landlord has not fixed a dangerous condition
- Walking down a sidewalk when the city or a property owner has not fixed broken pavement
- Walking in a parking lot when there is uneven pavement
How to Prove a Slip and Fall Case
The basis for a slip and fall lawsuit is a premises liability claim against the property owner. Like any other personal injury case, you need a finding of negligence to recover financially. In a slip and fall case, the analysis will be a little different than it would be for something like a car accident.
Here, the property owner needs to use reasonable or ordinary care to maintain the property in a safe condition. This can mean a couple of different things. First, they keep the property in good repair. This covers things like broken sidewalks and steps. Second, when they know or should have known of a danger, they address it.
The key is knowledge. Property owners are not expected to fix every single problem the instant that it happens, nor are they expected to always guarantee everyone’s safety. Instead, they must act reasonably. What is reasonable depends on the circumstances. This is why you need a slip and fall lawyer by your side.
There are several ways of proving a slip and fall case. You can show:
- The owner themselves or their representative caused the dangerous condition.
- The owner knew of a dangerous condition and did nothing to fix it.
- The owner should have known of the problem but did not learn about it. This could be because much time passed from when it happened. This brings to mind the spill in the store aisle that sits there because store employees are not checking the condition of the floors regularly.
In any event, you need to show what the owner knew, should have known or did. This makes slip and falls cases very much dependent on the individual facts. Already, you can see that these cases are much more complicated than they sound. The way that you prove facts is through bringing evidence that demonstrates your side of the story. In a slip and fall case, the burden is on you to prove your case.
What if Warning Signs Were Present at the Time I Fell?
What if there were warning signs displayed and you still got injured? For example, the store was aware of the olive oil spill and had put a sign up. Yet you still slipped on the oil.
It depends on the location of the warning signs and the nature of the signs. For instance, the signs may have been small. Perhaps they were tucked away or placed in a spot where you couldn’t see them until it was too late. In these examples, the warning signs will not be as helpful for the store.
There are some examples of warning signs that would help the store. If the store blocked the spill off and you walked around that, then the store would not be liable for that. If you disregarded a clear warning sign, then you don’t have as strong of a case. It is important to understand the context of your fall.
Again, every case stands on its own facts, which is why it is important to consult with a slip and fall attorney.
How Much Time Do I Have to Sue After a Slip and Fall?
Like most personal injury cases in California, you have a two-year window to bring your case. If you haven’t resolved your case in two years, then you will be required to file a lawsuit. You do this to preserve what is called the statute of limitations.
If you do not bring that claim in two years, your case is over. You cannot get around the two-year limit to bring your case. That is why it is important to act once you have been injured in a slip and fall or trip and fall incident.
What Kind of Damages Can I Recover from a Slip and Fall Lawsuit?
There are several damages you can request and win from a slip and fall lawsuit. They include your lost wages, your medical bills and general damages that are called pain and suffering.
Pain and suffering damages are the damages where you get to recover for your injury. This relates to the physical and emotional pain that the incident caused. You may experience anxiety, depression, lack of sleep, and the loss of enjoyment of life. These general damages are ones you can claim in a slip and fall trip and fall case.
Every case will have a different amount for pain and suffering, depending on the severity of the case. It is often difficult to determine the amount you would assign to such things. How do you put a price tag on years of physical and emotional pain?
Getting Fair Compensation in a Slip and Fall Case
Once you prove that someone else was responsible, your lawyer’s job is to work for fair compensation. The value of your compensation will depend on the severity of your injuries and losses. If you suffer a serious injury that causes you considerable pain and suffering and causes you to miss a lot of work time, your payment could be much higher.
Damages are all about what you personally have suffered. The insurance company is always going to try to say that your suffering is less than what you are claiming. This is their time-honored way of conduct. However, the time-honored way of conduct for slip and fall lawyers is to fight for their client, and this is where we come into the picture. We are experienced and tireless advocates for our clients who are not afraid to demand what you are owed.
Your compensation should include all costs related to your injuries and money to pay you for what you went through. Here is what you should be compensated for in a slip and fall case:
- Your medical bills
- Payment for time missed from work or even a reduction in earnings capacity if you could not do your previous job
- Rehabilitation costs
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
This is only a partial list. Your lawyer will sit down with you and learn about your experience and what you have lost from the accident in valuing your case.
Negotiating and Settling Your Slip and Fall Case
Your compensation process will begin when you contact the insurance company and begin work on your claim. Chances are that the property owner has an insurance policy that will pay for these types of personal injury. The first step of the process is proving negligence in the manner that we discussed above. After that, you must agree on compensation with the insurance company, which is not always an easy thing given the tendency of the insurance company to make low settlement offers.
Many slip and fall cases will never reach a trial. You could reach a settlement with the insurance company without even filing a court case or may settle a lawsuit your claim ever reaching a jury. Slip and fall trials are rare, but they happen on occasion. However, you need an experienced and aggressive lawyer to help you file a strong claim and to prove your case. The unique facts of your case will determine whether you are successful, and you must have an advocate who can establish and present those facts. The key is to get the medical and legal help that you need right after the accident.
Experienced Orange County Slip and Fall Attorneys
At the Law Office of Brent W. Caldwell, our attorneys are experienced in slip and fall cases and know what evidence you need to be successful. We are committed and tireless advocates dedicated to achieving the best possible legal outcome for our clients. Call us today at (714) 844-1682 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation.