In California, if you slip and fall or trip and fall while visiting a business establishment you may be able to recover money for your injuries if the owner of the establishment failed to keep the place safe for visitors. Issues that come up usually center around poor management of the store that leads to spills being left on floors, debris, and ice or water that is undetectable to the naked eye. This area of law is known as premises liability.
Premises liability law is complicated. You need an experienced slip and fall attorney to investigate and prove your case. Contact Varlack Legal Services for a free consultation about how our Hayward, California personal injury law team can help you in a slip and fall case. We serve clients throughout the San Francisco Bay area and beyond.
“Premises liability” is not strict liability law – that is, a business owner is not automatically at fault for all falls. In order for the owner of the business to be liable for your injuries he had to act carelessly or unreasonably. The law understands that businesses with a lot of foot traffic, or businesses that sell food and drink, cannot be responsible for every injury caused by spills for example, because this would require a level of vigilance that would take away from the business. Thus, the law just wants the owner to be careful and reasonable, to keep a safe premise. This means that an owner may not be liable for your injuries if he can show that he regularly inspected the area where you fell. Thus, as plaintiff/claimant you have to show that the owner did not routinely inspect the premises where you fell or did no inspection at all for an appreciable time.
In a case called Ortega v. Kmart Corp. (2001) 26 Cal.4th 1200, 1213, the California Supreme Court stated that
“[i]t remains a question of fact for the jury whether, under all circumstances, the defective condition existed long enough so that it would have been discovered and remedied by an owner in the exercise of reasonable care.”
In other words, if you have a slip and fall claim and it goes to court, your case may be decided on whether the condition that caused your injury could have been – and should have been – discovered prior to your fall. Ortega, at 1210.
You may also make a case for premises liability if you are injured while visiting an area that is inherently dangerous. This would mean an unsafe parking lot with broken parking stalls, a sidewalk or walkway with dangerous cracks and uneven pavement, or a floor that doesn’t have the right type of covering for the usage.
Here, the same law explained above would apply. And to successfully recover for your injuries you would need to show a lack of care by the owner.
If you are injured in a slip and fall accident, it is important to carefully document your medical treatment, your communications with the establishment where you were injured, and any money you lost caring for yourself after your injury. As a victim of premises liability, you would be able to recover money for your medical expenses, missed work, in home care, loss of property and future expenses.
Free Consultation with a Hayward Slip and Fall Attorney — Serving the Bay Area and Beyond
In cases that Varlack Legal Services has handled, the owners have been Grocery Outlet, Wal-Mart, Lucky’s, California Department of Corrections, BART, AC Transit, PG&E and AMTRAK to name a few. If you have been injured in a slip and fall, contact VLS now for a free consultation.