SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENTS
Slip and Fall accidents are very common in our society. Every year about 9 million people end up in an emergency room as a result of a slip and fall accident. Some slip and fall accidents do not cause major injuries, while others can result in various serious injuries such as head trauma, spinal cord injuries, broken or fractured bones, and facial injuries.
Statistics show that most serious injuries that result from slip and fall accidents are fractures, which occur to 5% of all people who fall. The biggest contributing factor to slip and fall accidents are floors and flooring materials, which according to Consumer Product Safety Commission contribute to more than 2 million fall injuries each year.
Age plays a major role in the injuries people suffer as a result of a slip and fall accident. For example, according to The National Institute on Aging, hip fractures are 10 to 15 times more likely to result from a slip and fall accident if a person is 85 years old or older than a person who is 60 to 65 years old. Age also plays a role in probability of experiencing a slip and fall accident. For example, 1/3 of people over the age of 65 will experience a fall every year, and 10% of those people will suffer a serious injury.
CALIFORNIA SLIP AND FALL LAWS
In California, slip and fall cases fall under Premises Liability cause of action. Premises liability is a form of negligence where the owner of the property has a duty to exercise proper care in order to avoid exposure to unreasonable dangers that could cause harm. To prove your case under Premises Liability the following elements must be established:
- That the defendant was either: 1. an owner of the property, 2. legally leased the property, 3. or legally controlled the property;
For example, if you slip and fall at a grocery store, this element would be easy to prove as it is easy to establish who owns, leases or controls a grocery store.
- That the defendant negligently maintained the property.
In order to prove negligence of the defendant, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant had a duty, that the defendant breached that duty, and that the breach caused damages to the plaintiff. For the purpose of slip and fall cases, the defendant is negligent if (1) defendant directly caused the spill on the floor or caused the floor to be slippery or dangerous in any way; (2) defendant knew of this dangerous condition; or (3) the defendant should have known of the dangerous condition. The third way is the most common way to find negligence on behalf of the defendant in slip and fall cases. This is simply because hardly ever does a defendant directly cause the dangerous condition on the floor or knows of the condition without eliminating it. So under the third situation, the courts use a “reasonable person” standard to determine whether the defendant was negligent. In other words, the courts will ask “Would a reasonable person know that there was a dangerous condition on the floor which caused the plaintiff to fall?” If the answer is “yes,” then the defendant will be deemed negligent and placed at fault for the fall.
- That YOU were harmed.
Harm is another element that is fairly easy to prove. If you slip and fall and suffer physical injuries, such as head trauma, spinal cord injuries, broken or fractured bones, or facial injuries, then that will be your “harm,” and if other elements for a slip and fall case are also proven, you will be compensated for that harm. Thus, you will be compensated for all medical treatment, which falls under special damages, as well as pain and suffering, which is known as general damages. Other special damages that you will be entitled to are loss of past and future earnings and loss of employment or business opportunities.
- That the defendant’s negligence in maintaining the property was something that was a substantial factor in causing your injuries.
The causation element in a Premises Liability cause of action is proven by showing that defendant’s negligence in maintenance of the property, such as a wet floor, caused the injuries and not your own actions.
COMMON CAUSES OF SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENTS
As slip and fall cases occur every day and often cause very serious injuries, it is important to know what some of the most common causes for slip and fall accidents in Woodland Hills are and try to avoid them.
Wet floors or Uneven Surfaces – Wet floors and uneven surfaces cause over 55% of all slip and fall accidents according to National Floor Safety Institute. At grocery stores, these wet floors are usually caused by shoppers who pick up and improperly place away goods which causes spills.
Poor Training of Staff – As many slip and fall cases occur at work and grocery stores, one of the main contributing factors is poor training of the staff. Employees at grocery stores are not properly trained to clean the floors, while at other work places employers do not provide adequate training to their employees regarding slick surfaces and slip and fall accidents.
Bad Weather Conditions – Many slip and fall accidents occur when the weather is “bad.” Luckily we do not get much rain in Woodland Hills, so slip and fall accidents that are caused by rain are fewer than in other parts of the county.
Improper Footwear- In Woodland Hills many people often wear flip-flops or similar types of shoes which can be very dangerous when walking on slippery areas. Other dangerous shoes include high heels and shoes that lack rubber soles. In order to prevent a potential slip and fall accident, it is always wise to wear shoes with proper soles.
Lack of Precaution – Owners often fail to take precautions to prevent slip and fall accidents. For example, owners often fail to provide good matting system at entrances, produce sections, and other areas which tend to have wet floors.
COMMON INJURIES SUFFERED BY VICTIMS
Slip and fall accidents can result in no injuries at all to some of the most severe injuries caused by any accident. These injuries can result in great medical expenses, pain and suffering, as well as limitation in future enjoyment of life. The most common injuries suffered by Slip and Fall victims are:
- Head Trauma,
- Spinal Cord Injuries,
- Hip Injuries,
- Shoulder Injuries ,
- Broken or Fractured bones, and
- Facial injuries.
DAMAGES AND COMPENSATION FOR A SLIP AND FALL CASE
Slip and fall cases, as any other personal injury cases, give rise to general and special damages. General damages are those that directly flow from the slip and fall accident, while special damages are those capable of being calculated with reasonable accuracy.
In other words, if you prevail in a slip and fall case, you will be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering that you have experienced as a result of the accident – general damages, as well as compensation for your medical bills, time lost from work and future earnings (money you cannot earn as a result of the slip and fall) – special damages.
FILING YOUR SLIP AND FALL CASE
When involved in a slip and fall accident, it is important to act on time. In California, a plaintiff has two years to file a case in court from the date of the accident, which is known as Statute of Limitations. If a plaintiff is a minor, there is some extra time available, specifically a minor has 2 years from their 18th birthday to file a case, or the right to claim damages will be forfeited.
CHOOSING A WOODLAND HILLS ACCIDENT ATTORNEY
The severe injuries caused by slip and fall accidents require Woodland Hills Accident Lawyer who will represent you and fight for your rights. Slip and Fall accidents are no laughing matter. They cause serious injuries that are often permanent further causing serious financial difficulties. Act on time.