Slip and fall accidents can happen to anyone, at any time. If a floor is wet, or contaminated with food or other slippery substances, or an unexpected obstruction protrudes from the ground, accidently falling is a real possibility. According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), slips and falls account for nearly ten million emergency room visits annually. The National Safety Council’s (NSC) annual Preventable Injury-Related Death Report puts the odds of dying from a fall at 1 in 111—a harrowing statistic considering it ranks 8th most likely out of 26 possible causes of death listed on the report.
While slips and falls and trips and falls are both prevalent and dangerous, sometimes they are preventable. Simple care, routine maintenance, and general upkeep of the floor is a good way to prevent slips, trips, and falls. However, even if you do your part, slip and fall accidents are largely unpredictable when you are out at a friend’s house, in a public space, or at a private business—the truth is, a property owner’s negligence can lead to a fall.
The following is a few steps you should take if you sustain injuries as a result of a slip and fall accident.
Document the scene of the accident, and if you require medical attention, do not hesitate to get it.
A slip or trip and fall can cause serious injuries, and the accident may have been no fault of your own. This is why it is important to document the scene of the injury.
If you can, take pictures of what caused you to fall, whether it was a wet floor, broken step, pothole in a parking lot, or other such hazard. If the fall occurred at night, or in a low-light situation, be sure to take a picture to document the light conditions. Also, if there are any witnesses to your fall, try to note down their name and contact info. This evidence can help you recover damages should you take your injury case to court.
One of the most important steps you can take is getting medical attention if you need it. If you delay medical attention, the defendant in your case can potentially argue that your injuries were not a result of the accident.
You should retain all documents pertinent to your case. This includes photos, medical documents, text messages, shoes and clothing, and other similar documents and evidence.
If you sustain a slip and fall injury, it’s important to establish what caused your injury.
It’s almost always true: slip and fall accidents occur unexpectedly. You never expect your stable footing to suddenly slip out from underneath you. Slipping on wet floors, falling or tripping down stairs, tripping on an object, stepping an unmarked hole, and losing footing on a ladder are some of the most common ways that people slip or trip and fall.
If you were injured as the result of a slip and fall accident, determining why you fell is the first step towards receiving injury compensation.
For example, assume that you were at a friends house.. You walked into their garage, banged your shin on an exposed pipe that was sticking up a few inches off the ground, and fell to the ground with a broken leg. In this situation, the pipe is the ‘what’—it caused you to fall and break your leg.
Breaking your leg on an exposed pipe in your friend’s garage is likely a situation in the homeowner may be at fault. This case would most likely fall under premises liability law, a body of laws which generally states that property owners have the duty to keep their property reasonably safe. In order to recoup damages, you would need to prove: the defendant owned, rented, or leased the property; the defendant was negligent in their use or maintenance of the property; you were harmed; what you slipped or tripped on was not open and obvious; and the defendant’s negligence was a factor in your injury.
While the above situation only serves only as an example, California premises liability law often comes into play when litigating a slip and fall injury.
The key factor in obtaining injury compensation under premises liability is establishing that the defendant was negligent. As mentioned, property owners are responsible for maintaining the safety of their property to the extent that any reasonable individual would. This responsibility is known as duty of care. A breach of this responsibility can constitute negligence.
A well known slip and fall case is about a plaintiff participating in a volleyball game landed on the base of a portable referee stand after jumping and spiking a ball. The plaintiff suffered a serious left knee injury that required numerous surgeries. The court found the defendants were liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. Their decision to install a referee stand with a protruding base showed the defendants did not make an effort to keep the base from interfering with the field of play, nor did they make it open and obvious that the protruding base was a safety hazard. This was found to constitute negligence under premises liability law.
Establishing what caused you to slip and fall is paramount to recovering damages. If you can prove a defendant in California negligent, they may be held liable for your injuries under premises liability law.
What should you do after a slip and fall accident?
If you sustain an injury after a slip and fall, you should:
- Document the scene. Take pictures and collect witness information if possible.
- If you need it, seek medical attention right away.
- Contact a lawyer who can help you establish the facts of your case, including what caused your injury, and help you determine if you should pursue litigation.
Slip or trip and fall injuries are common and can be serious. The lawyers at Penney & Associates have experience helping slip and fall injury victims navigate their legal options and can help one receive the compensation one might deserve. Contact us today for a free legal consultation!