Bakersfield Slip and Fall Lawyers
All San Diego Case Types
Slip & Fall
Bakersfield Slip and Fall Lawyers
With nearly a million people currently calling Bakersfield home, there are plenty of businesses that provide products and services to the community. One thing all of those businesses, along with private residences and public properties, have in common is the requirement that they keep their visitors safe from hazards. Slip and fall accidents are often regarded as minor incidents. However, slipping and falling can result in life-changing injuries or even death.
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident, a Bakersfield slip and fall attorney from Gomez Trial Attorneys can help you make sense of the legal process to obtain compensation for the expenses and impacts you incurred because of your injury through a free case evaluation.
We have helped many people just like you.
Our results include:
- A $16,200,000 jury award for a client who suffered a brain injury due to a slip and fall accident.
- A $7,500,000 jury award for the expenses and impacts our client incurred due to a slip and fall.
- A $2,100,000 settlement to compensate an individual for injuries sustained in a slip and fall accident.
While we cannot guarantee any results, contact Gomez Trial Attorneys today to see what we can do to help you.
HOW DOES THE LAW TREAT A BAKERSFIELD SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENT?
Bakersfield slip and fall cases are based on state statutes which assert that a property owner is liable for injuries caused by his or her failure to ensure that the property was free from hazards. Slip and fall accidents are the most common type of premises liability claims and result from a visitor to the property tripping or slipping on something and falling.
More than a million slip and fall injuries result in a visit to the emergency department each year, according to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI). This type of injury is particularly dangerous for elderly people. For individuals between the ages of 65-84, falls are the second-leading cause of death. For those over 84, it is the leading cause of death.
Falls are also a major source of workplace injury and are the primary cause of fatal occupational injuries, as well as the primary cause of lost days from work. Falls account for about 16 percent of occupational injuries and 26 percent of the cost. Falls occur in jobs across the manufacturing and service sector, but are especially common in the construction and mining industries.
COMMON CAUSES OF BAKERSFIELD SLIPS AND FALLS
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that floors and flooring materials directly contribute to more than 2 million falls a year. Common issues pertaining to floors and flooring materials that cause falls include loose floorboards, uneven floors, torn carpet, freshly waxed floors, or liquid on the floor that makes it slippery.
Other causes of slip and fall accidents include:
- Obstacles in the walkway, such as cords, hoses, or retail store displays.
- Broken handrails.
- Poorly constructed or damaged staircases.
- Inadequate lighting.
- Damaged sidewalks.
- Loose rugs or mats.
- Potholes in parking lots.
THE INJURIES CAUSED BY BAKERSFIELD SLIPS AND FALLS
Slip and fall accidents can result in some of the most serious injuries a person can endure. Among these serious injuries are bone fractures, which occur in approximately 5 percent of all falls. Here is a look at some of the more common injuries sustained in a slip and fall accident.
One of the most serious bone fractures one can receive from falling is a hip fracture, which occurs more often with older individuals. Half of all elderly people who fracture a hip in a fall will never live independently again after the injury occurs. Hip fractures are known to be quite painful and can result in dangerous complications including bedsores, blood clots, and pneumonia, as they limit an individual’s mobility.
Treatment of a hip injury almost always involves surgery within one to two days to relieve some of the immediate pain from the injury and to provide the patient with the ability to get out of bed. Physical therapy is also started as soon as possible to prevent complications associated with the injury. Many individuals will ultimately go on to receive rehabilitation treatment from a short-term nursing facility for a time before returning home.
TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES
Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries. The brain is an extremely important organ, responsible for sending messages through the spinal cord to the rest of the body to control both voluntary and involuntary responses. However, despite its importance, the brain has only a limited ability to heal from injury. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) involve damage caused by a violent blow or jolt to the head or body that often results in permanent deficits that can render the individual unable to return to work, to live independently, or even to leave the care of a medical facility in some cases.
The type of deficits the individual suffers can depend not only on the severity of the injury, but also on the portion of the brain where the injury occurred. Common deficits include loss of memory; difficulty controlling one’s behavior, emotions, or impulses; difficulty speaking or understanding spoken language; problems with moving in a balanced or coordinated manner; depression and anxiety; and an inability to organize thoughts and ideas.
Much of the early part of treating a TBI is spent both stabilizing the patient, determining the natures and severity of the injury, and preventing complications. TBI complications can result in further damage as well as causing additional, dangerous conditions.
Some complications that individuals who have suffered a TBI can face include:
- Seizures, which often occur within the first few hours after the injury, but can recur and even become chronic. Recurring seizures following a TBI are referred to as post-traumatic epilepsy.
- Hydrocephalus, which occurs when cerebrospinal fluid collects on the brain, increasing pressure and the risk of further damage. Hydrocephalus is often treated by surgically placing a shunt that will drain the fluid away from the brain and into other parts of the body.
- Blood vessel damage in the brain that makes the individual more prone to complications, such as blood clots or stroke.
- Headaches, which can be frequent and last for months or even years after the injury.
SPINAL CORD INJURIES
Falls are the cause of approximately 31 percent of all new spinal cord injuries. The spinal cord, along with the brain, makes up the body’s central nervous system. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that rests within the bony protection of the spine and extends from the base of the skull to the waist. It is responsible for sending messages to and from the brain to other parts of the body. Contrary to popular belief, a spinal cord injury rarely features a severed spinal cord. Instead, spinal cord injuries usually result in a damaged spinal cord. Unfortunately, like the brain, the spine has only a limited ability to heal after becoming damaged.
Spinal cord injuries usually result in a loss of sensation and function below the injury site, which is known as paralysis.
The injury can be:
- Complete – Meaning the individual retains no sensation or function below the injury site; or
- Incomplete – Meaning there is still sensation and function but it is lessened by the injury.
Individuals who sustain an injury in the cervical (neck) region of the spine will usually lose sensation to all of the limbs, as well as the shoulders, chest and diaphragm, torso, hips, and pelvis. This level of paralysis is known as tetraplegia or quadriplegia. Individuals whose injury occurs lower in the spine, such as in the thoracic (chest) or lumbar (mid-lower back) regions of the cord, can expect paralysis in the lower extremities. This is known as paraplegia.
Spinal cord injuries are also often accompanied by severe complications that require a lifetime of medical care.
Some of those complications include:
- Respiratory system complications. Individuals with high spinal cord injuries often cannot cough or clear secretions from their lungs and throat. This can lead to complications such as pneumonia, which is the leading cause of premature death in people who suffer from spinal cord injuries.
- Loss of bowel and bladder control, which can result in urinary tract infections, constipation, bowel impaction, and increase the risk of acquiring bed sores.
- Loss of skin sensation. The inability to feel sensation on the skin is hazardous to individuals with spinal cord injuries. Not only can they not feel pressure against the skin that would prompt them to change positions and prevent bedsores, but it also places the individual at risk of burns and other skin injuries as they cannot tell if a surface is hot or cold.
- Circulatory problems, which can lead to dangerous conditions such as blood clots, pulmonary embolism, and autonomic hyperreflexia, which is a condition that results in dangerously high blood pressure.
- Complications with muscle tone. This includes uncontrollable tightening or spasming of the muscles, which is known as spasticity, or loss of muscle tone, which is known as flaccidity.
- Sexual complications, which often occur for both males and females who have incurred an injury to the spinal cord. These complications can include changes to erection and ejaculation for men, changes in lubrication for women, and changes to fertility and sexual function for spinal cord injury patients of both sexes.
SOFT TISSUE INJURIES
While generally minor as far as injuries go, soft tissue injuries can range from strains and sprains to painful and complex tendon tears. The most common place for these injuries to occur in a slip and fall accident is in the ankles or wrists. Wrists are a frequent injury site in this type of accident because people have a protective instinct to outstretch their arms in an attempt to “catch” themselves when they are falling.
SHOULDER, NECK, OR BACK INJURIES
Falls can result in damage to the shoulders, neck, or back, including muscle strain, rotator cuff tears and dislocations in the shoulder, damage to the vertebrae or discs of the spine, or a broken collar bone.
The knees often experience damage in a slip and fall accident due to a twisting of the leg during the fall or landing on the knee in the fall.
SLIP AND FALL INJURIES RESULT IN SERIOUS IMPACTS
Being seriously injured in a slip and fall accident can impact every facet of your life. For example, an individual with a traumatic brain injury may be expected to pay up to $3 million in medical care alone throughout his or her life, while also facing permanent deficits that render him or her unable to return to work or to earn the same income as he or she did before the accident. Spinal cord injuries can also result in extraordinary costs for medical care, as well as permanent deficits that can end a career. Both of these types of injuries, as well as hip fractures, can result in an inability for the person to live independently and complete self-care tasks on his or her own.
Beyond the costs, these types of injuries also result in profound emotional and psychological impacts. The injured individual can no longer participate in activities that he or she previously enjoyed. Family members often see a change in their relationship with the injured person as they assume caregiving responsibilities, and there can be a loss of self-confidence surrounding the injured person’s changed body and abilities.
If you have suffered a slip and fall injury in Bakersfield, read on for answers to some of the questions we are most commonly asked by our Bakersfield clients about slip and fall accidents.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT BAKERSFIELD SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENTS
These answers should provide some general guidance about the legal process of pursuing compensation for injuries you incurred because of a slip and fall accident. For answers to questions about your specific case, contact a Bakersfield slip and fall attorney from Gomez Trial Attorneys for a free case evaluation.
HOW DO I OBTAIN COMPENSATION AFTER A BAKERSFIELD SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENT?
Private and commercial property owners, along with the agencies that manage public properties around Bakersfield, are responsible for ensuring that there are no hazardous features that could cause you to slip and fall or trip and fall while visiting. If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, you may obtain compensation from a liable property owner through a lawsuit. This is a legal claim filed in civil court that seeks to show who was liable for your injury as well as what expenses and impacts to your quality of life have been incurred because of the injury.
WHAT WOULD I NEED TO PROVE TO HAVE A SUCCESSFUL OUTCOME IN MY BAKERSFIELD SLIP AND FALL CASE?
You must prove four elements in a Bakersfield slip and fall case:
- Duty: The property owner or occupier has a duty to maintain the premises, inspect them regularly for defects, address conditions that can cause harm to guests, and warn guests through the prominent placement of a warning sign near the hazard. You must establish that the property owner or occupier had a duty.
- Notice: The property owner or occupier is required to routinely inspect and maintain the property. You must show that the owner/occupier knew or reasonably should have known of the hazard through reasonable and routine inspections. This may be proven by the obviousness of the hazard; past complaints that have been submitted to the owner/occupier of the property about the hazard; prior injuries caused by the hazard; the length of time that the hazard has existed; and obvious but failed attempts to fix the hazard.
- Dangerous condition: Once you have established that the owner/occupier knew or reasonably should have known of the condition, you must show that the dangerous condition existed at the time of the accident, the accident occurred during the normal or intended use of the premises, and was the result of the dangerous condition.
- Damages: In the legal arena, damages refer to payment made in compensation for harm. To obtain compensation, you must show that you have incurred financial losses or impacts on your quality of life because of the accident that caused your injury.
To determine whether the property owner was liable for your injuries, the at-fault party’s insurance provider or a jury will need to consider such factors as the location of the property; the likelihood that someone other than the claimant would suffer the same type of injury because of the hazardous condition; whether the owner knew or should have known of the condition and whether he or she took steps to mitigate the hazard. Contact an attorney at Gomez Trial Attorneys to get started on collecting evidence to support your claim.
WHAT COMPENSATION IS AVAILABLE TO ME AFTER A BAKERSFIELD SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENT?
In California, you are permitted to pursue both economic and non-economic damages after a slip and fall accident. Economic damages are compensation for the expenses you incurred from the accident.
Expenses that are commonly included in economic damage claims are:
- Medical expenses, including the cost of emergency treatment at the scene or in the emergency department; transportation to the hospital via ambulance or medical aircraft; diagnostic testing, hospitalization; the services of a physician or surgeon; prescription medication; physical therapy and rehabilitation; and the provision of assistive devices such as crutches or a wheelchair.
- Lost wages resulting from being too injured to work or having to miss work to attend injury-related medical appointments.
- Loss of future earning capacity if your injury causes a permanent disability that renders you no longer able to work or to earn in the same capacity as you did before the accident.
Non-economic damages are payments made in compensation for the impacts that your injury has had on your quality of life.
Common impacts experienced by individuals who have been injured in slip and fall accidents include:
- Physical pain and suffering.
- Scarring, disfigurement, or loss of limb.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of the enjoyment of life.
- Loss of consortium, which is a damage collected on behalf of the injured person’s spouse for the loss of physical intimacy and companionship that often occurs after a serious injury.
In limited circumstances, you may also be eligible to recover punitive damages. This type of damage is unrelated to the expenses and impacts of your injury and is instead awarded to punish a defendant who causes an individual to incur a slip and fall accident through malice, fraud, or oppression. Your Bakersfield slip and fall attorney can advise you if punitive damages may be available in your case.
HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO FILE A BAKERSFIELD SLIP AND FALL LAWSUIT?
In California, individuals who have been injured in a slip and fall accident generally have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit in civil court. If your case is not filed by that deadline, you will likely be unable to recover damages for your injuries. However, it should be noted that if your case involved premises liability on the part of a local, state, or federal governmental agency, you will likely have different filing requirements and a different statute of limitations.
Your attorney will inform you if this is an issue that can impact your case. Because some of these claims against government agencies have filing deadlines of as little as six months, it can be imperative that you contact a Bakersfield slip and fall attorney as soon as possible to get started on your claim. Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys today.
I WAS TRESPASSING WHEN MY BAKERSFIELD SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENT OCCURRED. CAN I STILL OBTAIN COMPENSATION?
In some cases, you may obtain compensation as a trespasser who slipped and fell on public, commercial, or private property. Unlike most states, California no longer recognizes different levels of duty that are owed to business invitees, licensees, and trespassers. Instead, courts consider how likely it was that a trespasser would have entered the property, the location of the property, whether the property owner/occupier kept the property in a reasonably safe condition, whether the property owner/occupier knew the hazard existed, and the seriousness of the injury.
I SLIPPED WHILE IN A PUBLIC BUILDING IN BAKERSFIELD. WHO SHOULD I SUE?
While the determination of liability cannot be made without examining all of the details of your case, as a general rule, if you slipped and fell on public property due to a condition that the agency tasked with maintaining the property should have known about and should have repaired or warned you about, you can file a lawsuit against that agency.
I WAS INJURED IN A SLIP AND FALL AT WORK. CAN I SUE MY EMPLOYER?
Usually, workplace accidents are compensated through workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation is a type of no-fault insurance policy that most employers in California are required to provide for their employees. The receipt of these benefits generally waives your right to file a lawsuit seeking compensation. However, in some limited circumstances, a lawsuit would be your source of compensation after suffering injuries from a slip and fall accident at work.
These circumstances include:
- Your employer failed to provide a workers’ compensation policy despite being legally required to do so.
- Your slip and fall accident was the result of a third party (not your employer or coworker). An example of this is if you are a subcontractor at a construction site and suffered an injury because of a slip and fall accident caused by a negligent general contractor or other individual who is not employed by the company you work for.
We can help you determine whether to file a workers’ comp claim or whether you can file a lawsuit. We can handle both types of cases for you.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE SETTLEMENT IN A BAKERSFIELD SLIP AND FALL CASE?
Slip and fall cases vary widely in both the severity of the injuries caused as well as the circumstances surrounding the accident. Because of this, there really is no average settlement.
Instead, these factors could potentially affect your case:
- How much insurance the at-fault party has. Insurance—through homeowner, renter, business, or workers’ compensation policies—pays most awards and settlements arising from slip and fall claims. While it is possible to sue an uninsured individual or entity, collecting your award will likely be difficult as most individuals cannot afford to pay for the expenses and impacts of an injury out-of-pocket.
- The clarity of liability. Slip and fall accident cases are sometimes difficult to prove, as the property owner has defenses at his or her disposal, including claiming that he or she did not know the hazard existed or that the injured person caused their own accident for some reason, such as walking while texting or wearing the wrong shoes. In California, even if you are partially responsible for the accident that caused your injury, you could still seek compensation from other liable parties.
- The severity of your injury. It stands to reason that the more severe your injury is, the higher your medical expenses will be, the less likely it is that you can return to work and earn in the same capacity as you did before the accident, and will incur more significant impacts to your quality of life. All of these factors will usually increase the value of a case.
- Your patience. Settlement negotiations take time, and often the fairest offer an insurance company will make does not occur until the majority of your medical treatment is complete.
- The experience of your attorney. You want an attorney working with you who understands the profound impacts of a serious injury, the likelihood of complications that will require additional treatment in the future, and the other types of damages that are available in your case. Knowing which damages can be claimed will usually result in a higher valuation of your case.
WILL I HAVE TO PAY TAXES ON THE SETTLEMENT I RECEIVED IN MY BAKERSFIELD SLIP AND FALL CASE?
According to the Internal Revenue Service, awards and settlements received in compensation for a personal injury are not considered income and are not subject to tax. There are, however, some exceptions:
- If you already deducted medical expenses and then later obtained a settlement or award that included medical expenses, you will likely be expected to repay the amount of your deduction.
- If you received punitive damages, that portion of your award or settlement can be taxed as it is not directly related to your injury.
HOW CAN GOMEZ TRIAL ATTORNEYS HELP ME WITH MY BAKERSFIELD SLIP AND FALL CASE?
A Bakersfield personal injury lawyer can provide many services for you that an individual without training and experience in the legal system could not do on their own.
Those services include:
- Guidance as to your legal options, provided for free and with no obligation through a free case evaluation.
- Valuation of your case based on the expenses and impacts you have already incurred due to your injury, as well as those you will likely incur in the future.
A determination of all sources of liability and all insurance resources that can be accessed to compensate you.
- Timely filing of your court-required paperwork in the proper jurisdiction, and attendance on your behalf at all pre-trial conferences and hearings.
- Negotiation to garner a fair settlement offer, and guidance as to the pros and cons of accepting an offered settlement.
- Gathering and organizing evidence that can help prove your case.
- Assistance in collecting your settlement or award.
Let our Bakersfield slip and fall attorneys help you make sense of the legal process for obtaining compensation for injuries caused by a slip and fall accident. For your free case evaluation, contact us online or by calling 866-TRIAL LAW (866-874-2552).
Gomez Trial Attorneys
1825, 18th Street
Bakersfield, CA 93301
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