Can You Sue for a Slip and Fall?
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident, slip and fall lawyer, Paul J. Denni, may be able to help you recover a monetary award for your injuries in a California court.
The legal term for a monetary award is “damages.” Not every slip and fall incident will result in your ability to recover damages. What might prevent your recovery? Your slip and fall lawyer has four main hurdles to overcome in a lawsuit for a slip and fall accident:
#1 – Beware of the Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the amount of time you have after receiving your injury to bring a lawsuit. Typically, in a personal injury case you have two years from the date of your injury to bring your claim. If you wait longer than two years to sue, depending on your reason for waiting, you may be barred from bringing your slip and fall lawsuit.
#2 – Was There Liability?
Liability means whether the defendant is responsible to compensate you for your injuries. For personal injury cases, California law will hold a defendant liable for intentional or negligent conduct that caused your injuries.
Slip and fall accidents mostly occur due to the negligence of the defendant, or of the defendant’s employee, and occur inside of a residential or commercial building. The owner or person in control of the building owes its guests and visitors the duty to keep the building free from unsafe conditions.
For a defendant to be held liable to you for negligence it must be legally established that 1) you were owed a duty of care by the defendant; 2) the defendant failed to act reasonably under the circumstances; and 3) the defendant’s conduct caused you to be injured.
For example, if water or another liquid was accidentally spilled inside of a grocery store, but the store failed to take reasonable measures to clean it or warn of the danger, and this hazardous condition caused you to slip and injure yourself, then the owner would be liable to you for your injuries.
#3 – Can You Collect a Judgment?
As a practical matter, even if the court finds the defendant liable for your injuries, you may not be able to collect a judgment from the defendant if the defendant has no money to pay you.
This is why your slip and fall lawyer will often be litigating against the insurance company that issued the policy that covers the building where your injury occurred. Most homeowners and businesses owning or leasing commercial buildings will have an insurance policy to protect them against such instances.
But if there is no insurance, the defendant is insolvent, or the defendant has fled the country, you may be unable to collect a judgment even against a defendant who has been found liable for your injuries.
#4 – Are You Liable for Contributory Negligence?
In some cases, you may have been injured in a slip and fall incident partially due to your own fault. This is known as “contributory negligence.”
In the fictional scenario I gave above, you might be liable for contributory negligence if you slipped and fell while you were looking at your phone instead of observing your surroundings, which may have prevented you from injury. You are only liable for contributory negligence if you were not behaving reasonably under the circumstances.
In California, contributory negligence won’t bar your claim against the defendant entirely, but it may result in a reduction of the amount you can recover. The jury will you usually decide percentages of fault, so if defendant was liable for $100,000 but you were 25% at fault, then your recovery would be reduced to $75,000.
Should I Get a Lawyer for a Slip and Fall?
A slip and fall lawyer can greatly improve your chance of recovery in a jury trial or settlement negotiation. Normally the opposing party you will primarily deal with in a slip and fall lawsuit will be the defendant’s insurance company.
Insurance companies are businesses that are trying to make as much money as possible. Consequently, insurance companies invest a lot of money in defense lawyers hired to thwart your every effort at the recovery you deserve.
So hiring a slip and fall lawyer will even the playing field. Attorney Paul J. Denni is a compassionate and zealous attorney, ready to stand against the insurance company’s defense lawyers and fight for your case. In personal injury matters, you don’t have to pay any money upfront to hire an attorney – we only get paid if you win.
What is a Reasonable Settlement for a Slip and Fall?
What constitutes a reasonable settlement for a slip and fall case is highly determinative of the facts at hand. Factors that influence your settlement amount include:
- The evidence available to prove the defendant’s liability
- The severity of your injuries and the pain involved
- Whether surgeries or ongoing treatment are required to care for your injuries
- Your loss of income due to being unable to work
- Your medical bills
- Whether you are liable for contributory negligence
These and other factors are a part of obtaining a favorable settlement on your behalf. For more questions or for a free consultation, contact attorney Paul J. Denni below.