Did you slip or fall on someone else’s property? You may have what’s known as a “premises liability” claim. But how does premises liability law work, and when can you claim damages? Our premises liability slip and fall lawyers answer these questions below.

Slip and Fall Accidents

A slip and fall accident happens when you slip, trip, or fall somewhere. If the accident happens on property owned by someone else, it might be a premises liability claim. This is because, under premises liability law, we can hold property owners responsible for injuries in some scenarios.

What Is Premises Liability Law?

In California, property owners have a duty to keep their property reasonably safe for public and private visitors. This means keeping the property free from hazardous conditions, including: 

  • Uneven surfaces 
  • Cracked sidewalks 
  • Poor lighting 
  • Damaged handrails  
  • Spillages  

This is not an “absolute” duty. Owners need only take reasonable care of their property. Let’s consider what that means for premises liability claims.

California Premises: Liability for Slips and Falls in CA

It’s not always possible to sue a property owner for a slip and fall in CA. We must be able to prove four things first. These four elements are: 

  • The property owner owed you a duty of care
  • There was a breach of this duty of care. 
  • You sustained actual harm on the premises due to slipping or falling. 
  • The property owner’s negligence caused the accident resulting in harm. 

Let’s break down these elements in turn.

1. Duty of Care

A duty of care is the duty to consider how your actions may impact or harm others. For example, drivers owe other road users a duty of care. This means driving safely and observing road rules.

Closeup of person holding their knee after a fall accident

Property owners are legally obliged to make their property safe for visitors, employees, and clients. So, whether you’re visiting a restaurant or grocery store, the owner must make the premises safe for you.

2. Breach of Duty

You must then show that the premises owner didn’t exercise reasonable care. This could mean that the owner: 

  • Knew about a hazard and failed to remedy it; 
  • Should have known about a hazard and failed to remedy it; or 
  • Created a harmful situation. 

Breaches of duty often occur when a property owner fails to inspect their property or perform routine maintenance. But they can also occur if the owner fails to warn someone about a potential hazard e.g. with a warning sign.  

Proving breach of duty is complex. Your attorney can explain the standard of proof involved, and the evidence you might need to succeed.

3. Actual Harm

The third element is showing actual bodily harm. This just means proving that you were injured during an accident on the premises. Medical records, accident reports, and pictures of your injuries are very helpful here.

4. Causation

Finally, you must show that the owner’s negligence caused your accident and injuries. In other words, you wouldn’t be injured had the property owner not been negligent.  

Proving causation is one of the most challenging elements of any personal injury claim. It may require, for example, expert evidence. Experienced premises liability lawyers know how to build a case – our team can help if you require legal advice.

Elements of Premises Liability: Ice Slip and Fall Claims

Can you still sue a property owner if you slip or fall on an icy sidewalk? As with any personal injury claim, the answer is: it depends. The property owner may be liable if: 

  • They were responsible for maintaining the sidewalk. 
  • They knew (or reasonably ought to have known) about the hazardous conditions. 
  • Despite this knowledge, they failed to clear the ice or make the area safe. 

Your attorney can explain if you have such a slip and fall claim.

Making a Premises Liability Claim

There are various steps involved in making a slip and fall or premises liability claim. Your attorney can explain what’s involved in more detail, but briefly, here’s what happens. 

  • You contact a premises liability slip and fall lawyer. 
  • If you have a case, your attorney files a lawsuit against those responsible.  
  • The at-fault party’s insurer may offer to settle. Your attorney can advise you if the offer is fair.  
  • If there’s no settlement offer, or it’s too low, your attorney may recommend a trial. This is unusual in slip and fall claims, but it can happen.  

The whole process may take a few months. However, it could take a year or more depending on the complexity of the case. For example, it may take longer if there are severe injuries or multiple defendants.

Premises Liability Slip and Fall Settlements

As with all personal injury cases, it’s hard to value a claim until your lawyer knows the facts. Every settlement is different – your case is unique to you. The settlement offer normally depends on, for example: 

  • Your actual losses 
  • The extent of your injuries 
  • Pain and suffering  
  • Whether you can make a full recovery 

Our attorneys can explain what to expect from the settlement process.

How Long You Have to Make a Claim

In CA, you only have two years from the accident date to make a slip and fall claim. This is known as the statute of limitations.  

Other time limits sometimes apply. For example, claims against government agencies must be made within six months of the accident. And you may have more or less time, depending on the injured party’s age and whether there are fatalities.  

To ensure you don’t miss a claims deadline, contact a lawyer sooner rather than later.

What to Do Immediately After a Slip and Fall Accident

Slip and fall cases can be hard to prove. Premises liability cases are no different. To help ensure the right parties are held liable, here’s what to do straight after an accident.

Report the Accident

If you leave the premises without reporting the accident, it may be harder to show causation later. Remember, you need to show that you fell on the premises and that the owner is liable.

Man helping a woman up after falling down stairs outside in the winter

If there are witnesses, stay on the ground and ask them to get you help. Remaining on the ground proves that you fell – and it shows where you fell. This may be helpful to proving your case.   

Report what happened to the premises owner or manager. Make sure there’s a record of your complaint e.g. an accident report or note. For example, if you fall at the grocery store, report the accident to the store manager.

Take Pictures

If you can, take videos or pictures of the scene.  

  • Capture the hazard that caused the accident, such as a spillage or broken floor tile.  
  • Take pictures of your injuries and any property damage. 
  • You might also take pictures of the wider area, especially if there are signs of negligence. For example, maybe there are obvious signs of disrepair or dangerous conditions.  

Your personal injury lawyer can use this evidence to help make your case.

Get Medical Attention

Many trips and falls cause minor injuries, such as soft tissue damage. However, even minor injuries should be checked over by a doctor. And visiting the ER or doctor’s office helps to prove your injuries.  

If you delay seeking help, it’s easier for the negligent party to challenge your injuries. They may claim that you did not sustain these injuries on their premises, for example. 

What’s more, some injuries seem minor but are potentially serious e.g. concussion. Delayed treatment could be life-threatening.  

Don’t take any chances. Get medical attention as soon as possible.

Gather Evidence to Support Losses

The value of your claim depends on various factors, including your actual losses. So, to ensure you can claim a fair amount of damages, gather evidence to prove losses such as: 

  • Lost wages 
  • Prescription costs 
  • Medical bills 
  • Property repair/replacement costs  

Pain and suffering is harder to quantify, but your accident attorney will explain how this is calculated.

Contact a Premises Liability Slip and Fall Lawyer

Finally, contact a slip and fall lawyer in California. An experienced attorney will listen to you and determine if you have a case. They’ll explain how the process works, who to sue, and what to expect. They will handle the legal matters so you can focus on what’s important – recovery.  

There’s no reason to delay seeking legal advice. You can contact our lawyers immediately, even if you don’t have all the evidence yet. After all, it’s our job to help you through the process. You’re not alone in this!

Why Do I Need a Premises Liability Slip and Fall Lawyer?

Premises liability claims are inherently complex.  

For one thing, it’s not always obvious who to sue, or how much a claim is worth. And insurance companies will do everything they can to minimize settlement offers. If there’s any chance they can avoid liability, they’ll take it.  

This is why you need a premises liability slip and fall lawyer. An experienced attorney knows how insurance companies work. They will not allow insurers to take advantage of you. They will help ensure that negligent parties are held accountable for their actions.  

And they’ll fight to get you the compensation you deserve.  

It’s natural to be reluctant to hire a lawyer. It can seem like a daunting – and formal – process. However, if you call the May Firm, we’ll put you at ease immediately. Clients are part of our family, and we’ll give you a warm welcome.

Contact Our Experienced Slip and Fall Accident Attorneys

Do you need a slip and fall attorney? Or do you have questions about premises liability law? Call the May Firm. 

We offer free consultations to every prospective client. And we don’t charge anything unless we win your case. For you, this means there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.  

If you’re injured on someone else’s property, don’t suffer alone. Call the May Firm now or complete our contact form to get started. 

Disclaimer: The content in this article is provided for general informational purposes only and may not represent the current law in the recipient’s jurisdiction. The article should not be interpreted as professional legal advice from The May Firm or the individual author, nor is the information intended to substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. The article, nor any of the information included, should not be used to act or refrain from acting without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s jurisdiction. Any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk.