Slip and fall accidents occur when you suffer a fall on someone else’s property, often due to a hazard like spilled water, uneven pavement, and holes in the ground. In some cases, no one directly causes these accidents—but in many other situations, the negligence of the property owner is responsible for the hazard in the first place.
Victims of slip and fall accidents can recover compensation from property owners through a personal injury lawsuit in California civil court. If you are injured on someone else’s property, you can hold them accountable for your injuries as long as you can prove his or her fault. There are three main elements of fault in slip and fall cases: duty of care, breach of duty, and causation.
Duty of Care
Before you can hold a property owner liable in a slip and fall claim, you will need to prove that he or she owed you a duty of care at the time of the accident. Generally, property owners have a responsibility to maintain safe premises and respond to hazards within a reasonable amount of time. If an owner cannot respond quickly, he or she must take reasonable steps to warn visitors of potential danger.
Property owners owe this duty to visitors and residents, but not trespassers. As long as you can prove that the at-fault party owned the property and that you were legally on the property at the time of the accident, you can establish duty of care.
Breach of Duty
After establishing the property owner’s duty of care, you will then need to prove that he or she breached it in some way. This will usually involve proving that a negligent act or failure to act took place. For example, if a grocery store owner fails to place a wet floor sign around a spill and leaves the spill unattended for hours, he or she breached his or her duty to maintain safe premises.
Other examples of a property owner’s breach of duty include the following.
- Ignoring repeated requests to fix a set of broken stairs
- Failing to place warning signs or tape around a dangerous hole in the ground
- Failing to repair broken pavement even after multiple employees slip and fall
If you are unsure whether a property owner’s action breaches his or her duty of care, speak to a Bakersfield personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can evaluate your case and determine whether the owner was negligent.
Once you prove breach of duty, you must show that the owner’s actions caused your slip and fall accident and your resulting injuries. For example, if you slip on a spill left unattended for hours in a grocery store, the accident would not likely have occurred if the owner had placed the appropriate signage around the area and asked an employee to clean up the spill.
There are multiple pieces of evidence that you can use to prove causation, including the following.
- Surveillance footage
- Medical records
- Witness testimony
- Incident reports
Establishing fault in a slip and fall accident claim can be a challenge. In these situations, it is important to have an attorney on your side who can help gather evidence, defend you against accusations of fault, and prove the owner’s liability. Contact a California slip and fall lawyer as soon as possible following your accident to discuss your legal options.