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Elements of a slip-and-fall claim

On Behalf of | Jun 27, 2024 | Personal Injury |

Each year, hundreds of people are injured due to slip-and-fall accidents. Filing a personal injury claim is one path toward recovering damages relating to your slip-and-fall injuries if the accident was caused by a property owner’s negligence. However, you must be able to prove all the following elements of the claim to recover these damages.

Legal visitor status

Property owners in California have a legal duty to keep their property safe for those visiting their property. They generally owe the highest degree of care to business invitees, followed by licensees or social guests. However, property owners owe the lowest degree of care to trespassers, or people who are unlawfully on the property. Trespassers will typically not be able to recover damages after a slip-and-fall, unless they can prove the owner intentionally caused them to become injured. Therefore, you will likely need to prove that you were classified as a business invitee or licensee at the time of your accident.

Dangerous property condition

Slip-and-fall accidents can occur for a variety of reasons, but to file a claim against a property owner, your accident must have been caused by a dangerous condition existing on the property. Here are a few examples of dangerous property conditions:

  • Uneven tiles/carpeting
  • Icy sidewalks
  • Slippery floors
  • Poor lighting
  • Broken steps

Actual or constructive notice

If a property owner had notice of a dangerous condition on the property, they have an obligation to take reasonable steps to fix it. Generally, actual notice means the property knew of the condition because they directly saw it or were warned about it.

Constructive notice means the property owner should have known of the condition. For example, constructive notice likely exists if the condition existed on the property for an extended time and a reasonable owner would have known about it.

Failure to take reasonable steps to repair condition

Property owners are generally responsible for taking reasonable steps to maintain the property and address any conditions that may cause an accident. Property owners are responsible for performing regular inspections of the property and taking reasonable action to fix any hazards they discover — or at least to warn legal visitors of the dangers that exist.

Damages

Lastly, you must show that the harm you suffered in your slip-and-fall was caused by the negligence of the property owner you are suing. You may recover both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages typically cover medical bills, lost wages and other financial losses. Noneconomic damages cover pain and suffering, emotional distress and other nonfinancial losses.