How Much Is My Slip And Fall Case Worth?
As with any injury claim, the value of a slip and fall case depends upon liability. Can we prove fault for the fall and negligence of another party? Slip and fall or trip and fall cases are unique and different from traffic accidents. For instance, if you are stopped at a red light, you’re a sitting duck. Someone can come up from behind and hit you, and there’s really nothing that you could have done about it. But, in a slip and fall, you are almost always a participant in the event. So, questions are raised in a slip and fall case. Why didn’t you see the condition? What did you do to avoid the condition? Why didn’t you avoid the condition? Were you paying attention? Liability issues are present in slip and fall cases that are not present in other types of cases. We have to establish that there was a dangerous condition that the defendant either created the condition or should have known about it had they been diligent in maintaining their property. That’s how we establish liability on the defendant.
However, we also have to address: why did you, of all people, happen to fall and become injured? Was the dangerous condition obvious to you? In a store that’s well-lit, a clear liquid like water may not be obvious. Also, in stores the owners want you to look at the shelves in front of you. They have aisle markers suspended from above requiring you to raise your head up to see them. They stock or “front” shelves so that they look full and inviting and draw your eye so that you select products and make purchases. They actually don’t want you, the customer, walking around looking at the floor, so it may be reasonable for you to not see a condition on the floor. Yet, defendants in store slip and fall cases always try to blame the victim.
When a case involves a broken sidewalk or raised piece of concrete, it may be tough to explain why you didn’t see that one or two-inch lift in the sidewalk if it’s daylight and you’re familiar with the area. On the other hand, if you’re not familiar with the area, if there were leaves or debris obstructing the raised sidewalk or concrete preventing you from seeing the defect or being aware of it, that can be a very good case.
The damages are also important when it comes to your injury. What type of medical care did you need and get? What was the cost of the care? Did your injury fully resolve, or are you left with residual pain and disabilities? How much are your medical expenses? Is there a loss of income? How did the injuries affect your life and your ability to engage in activities of daily living? The more long-lasting and profound your injuries, the greater the potential value of your claim. Those are the factors that we consider in determining the value of a slip and fall.
How Does The Court Determine If A Property Owner Should Have Known Of A Dangerous Condition?
The law tries to follow a common sense rule. It’s often referred to as the reasonable man standard. That is to say, what would a “reasonable man do under the circumstances”? The law requires that a property owner take “reasonable” care in the management and maintenance of his or her property. Well, what is reasonable? It depends upon the circumstances. Would a reasonable property owner allow the condition that caused the injury to have gone unnoticed or unrepaired? Would a reasonable property owner maintain the property in the condition that actually caused the injury?
Here’s an actual example. In a residential apartment building, the onsite manager saw that the concrete of the exterior stairs that led to the second floor was cracking and crumbling. Now, instead of having the broken concrete of the stairs repaired, he used duct tape to cover the broken concrete to hold it in place. After about a month, the duct tape, which was exposed to the rain, heat, and the elements, was no longer sticky, and it began to lift up. As a result, my client was climbing those stairs one day, and his foot got caught under the tape and he tripped. He fell on the concrete stairs and suffered serious injuries that required surgery. The question for the jury in that case was whether it was reasonable for the manager and property owner to repair broken stairs with tape and leave it there so long that the tape rotted, no longer adhered to the surface of the stairs, and tripped the tenant. That case went to trial, and the jury answer was no. I asked the owner on the witness stand if the picture of the rotted tape on the ground was a condition that she would allow at her own home. Her answer was no. That’s just one example of whether or not the property owner’s conduct was reasonable, and it boiled down to common sense.
How Can I Recoup Financially For A Slip And Fall Injury Without Filing A Lawsuit?
Most people do not want to file a lawsuit. Most cases are resolved without filing a lawsuit. Most cases are resolved through the claims process. In that process, you demonstrate that you fell because of a dangerous condition of the property; that the condition was either caused by the property owner or that the owner knew of the condition or that he should have known of the condition if he was taking reasonable care of his property. You demonstrate that you were being reasonably careful and that despite your care, you fell and were injured. You prove the nature and extent of your injuries and damages with medical bills, records and reports; loss of income, out of pocket expenses and how your injuries adversely affected your life and your ability to engage in activities of daily living.
But, it’s also important to understand that a lot of people don’t realize that just because they fell on somebody else’s property, it does not mean the property owner is at fault. A lot of people think that because they fell on someone’s property and got injured that the property owner is automatically at fault and is responsible to pay damages. The truth is that you need to demonstrate that someone else was negligent and caused or created a dangerous condition. People fall for all sorts of reasons where there is no one else to blame. Some people do not pay attention; they trip over a shoelace or fail to see something that’s in front of them. Perhaps they were looking at a cell phone while they were walking. There must may not be a dangerous condition of the property or something that is the fault of another person. So, just falling on someone else’s property doesn’t mean that there is a claim or lawsuit to be made. It has to be a situation where someone created or maintained a dangerous condition of the property and that you were injured.
Typically, you would make a claim with the at fault person’s liability insurance. If you’re injured badly enough that you need medical care because there was a dangerous condition that misled, deceived, or caused you to become injured, it is reasonable to make a claim. You can do that, and deal with an insurance company without necessarily needing to file a lawsuit. But sometimes a lawsuit is necessary and with a righteous case, it is important to file the lawsuit not only to recover for your damages and losses but also as a matter of public policy, to hold negligent property owners responsible for injuries they cause on their property as an incentive for them to do better; to make the property safe so that other people are not injured.
Who Will I Be Filing A Claim Against If I Was Injured On My Neighbor’s Rental Property?
We would file a claim or lawsuit against the person or company responsible for maintaining the property or creating the dangerous condition that caused the injury. If your neighbor is renting, and the property has a dangerous condition that your neighbor did not create, and the landlord or the property or manager failed to fix it, then you can make a claim against the property owner or property management company. If your neighbor was merely renting the property, and didn’t create the dangerous condition, then she or may not be responsible for the condition or your injuries. This is especially true if the injury occurred in a common area of the property, which is usually outside, as opposed to the area that your neighbor maintains, such as the interior of where she or he lives.
Again, merely falling on someone’s property does not mean that the cause of the fall was somebody else’s fault. Therefore, it depends upon the nature of the condition, how it got there, who created it or who allowed it to be there, how long it was there and who is responsible for it.
For more information on Worth Of A Slip And Fall Claim In California, a personalized consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (818) 530-1770 today.
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