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All across San Bernardino businesses, it can happen in an instant. You’re browsing in a grocery store, round the corner, and before you know it, your legs fly out from under you. The culprit? A bottle of spilled liquid in the aisle.
You’ve just suffered a common type of accident known as a slip and fall. Slip and falls, and related accidents such as trip and falls, pose dangers in retail establishments, hotels, theme parks, construction sites, workplaces, and homes.
Property owners in San Bernardino owe a duty to their visitors and customers to maintain a safe and hazard-free environment. If you or a loved one is injured in a slip and fall accident, call the experienced San Bernardino slip and fall attorneys at Gomez Trial Attorneys. We can advise you of your rights and fight to see that justice is done. Our initial consultation is always free.
Slip and fall incidents in San Bernardino can severely injure people, leading to a pile-up of medical bills and the inability to work and earn. The cumulative effects can lead to substantial stress and financial hardship—even mountains of medical debt and bankruptcy. With an attorney fighting for you, you are in a better position to receive the compensation to which you’re entitled.
Gomez Trial attorneys have secured numerous settlements and awards in slip and falls for past clients:
Note that these are only past results and do not necessarily guarantee any future claims, awards, or settlements for prospective clients. Our personal injury lawyers can discuss your case with you and advise you of potential next steps.
If you’ve suffered injuries in a slip and fall accident, your ability to achieve compensation for your injuries and other harm hinges on the concept of negligence.
All property owners owe a duty of care to the public. The duty of care is simple: owners must keep their premises (the building and related grounds and public areas) safe. These areas must not contain any area where someone could slip, trip, and fall—or suffer any other injury.
According to California law, “Everyone is responsible, not only for the result of his or her willful acts, but also for an injury occasioned to another by his or her want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property or person.” If property owners do not make their premises safe, they have breached the duty of care required, and, as a result, may be considered negligent. Negligent parties become liable (financially responsible) for injuries caused directly by their negligence.
San Bernardino property owners must routinely inspect, maintain, and repair their property to ensure this safety. According to California law, a property owner’s unawareness of unsafe conditions is not a defense, because the law follows a reasonably prudent person standard. If a reasonably prudent person knew or should have known about unsafe conditions, the property owner should have known.
Now, what happens if a property suddenly becomes unsafe for the public? For example, in the incident we mentioned initially, a child may have dropped the liquid just seconds before.
Generally, property owners are responsible for ensuring safe conditions by fixing anything that could trigger a slip and fall. If someone spills a liquid, a cleanup should follow. But because fixing any unsafe condition generally takes at least some time (even if only a few minutes), the law also holds that the property owner needs to warn the public during the interim between an unsafe condition occurring and the repair.
A store owner, for instance, needs to place warning signs and cones around the spill. The warning should consist of not only verbal or signage warnings, but making the area inaccessible to unwitting members of the public.
Property owners also need to ensure appropriate training and instruction for all staff so that they understand the duty of care and will take appropriate steps to ensure it. Ignorance of staff on duty is not a legal defense if an unsafe condition harms someone.
These laws concerning slip and falls and negligence apply to every property owner. Slip and falls can occur in retail establishments like stores, malls, hotels, theme parks, gyms, construction sites and other workplaces, rental properties, private homes, and more.
Conditions that can cause slip and falls include:
Slip and fall injuries range from bruises to catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal cord injury.
A catastrophic injury is one where the victim’s ability to work, perform the activities of daily living like getting dressed and eating, and enjoy life is severely compromised. Someone who suffers a catastrophic injury may require medical care for the rest of their life.
Potential injuries include:
Victims of slip and fall accidents in San Bernardino and surrounding areas can seek damage compensation.
This provides financial compensation to folks for physical, emotional, and mental harm.
Damage compensation is sought either from the at-fault party’s insurance company or through a premises liability lawsuit in civil court.
Total damage compensation for any specific slip and fall accident depends on the type of injuries suffered, how serious complications are, and their effects on the injured person’s life.
In other words, there is no standard amount a person injured in a slip and fall receives. We can, however, provide a guide to how monetary damages are determined.
Bills and loss of income are determined by tabulating the loss to the victim. Medical and related bills are added up. If future medical treatment is likely, expert opinion is sought to find out first, what the standard treatment is, and second, what the likely future cost be.
If the injured person had to take time from work, the amount of time is multiplied by the current salary. If time away from work is expected in the future, the anticipated time is multiplied by your current income. If the person is disabled and can no longer work, expert opinion is solicited to determine the estimate of lifetime wages.
Assessing all the other damages is slightly more subjective, as it’s complex to quantify mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, and so on. Here, you will want our experienced San Bernardino slip and fall lawyers to carefully assess all of the impacts you fall had on your health, your job, and your activities and make certain that the insurance company doesn’t offer an unfair lowball settlement.
Tragically, some slip and fall accidents prove fatal. In those cases, specific family members are entitled to bring a wrongful death suit for damages.
While no amount of money can compensate loved ones for a death, the law also recognizes that the final injury may have resulted in expenses which it is not just to expect the family to bear. The death also can economically harm the family.
Wrongful death suits are designed to compensate economically for such harm.
If the deceased could have brought a premises liability lawsuit had they lived, the following family members can bring a wrongful death suit.
They can seek damages in the following categories.
Owners of private homes in San Bernardino also owe a duty of care to guests as property owners of businesses or rental property open to the public. They must ensure that their homes and grounds are safe.
However, in all cases, the law also looks at the circumstances surrounding the slip and fall. Businesses are always open to the public, during the hours of operation. Private homes, on the other hand, aren’t always open to the public.
Consider the following example. A homeowner is building a swimming pool. The deck surrounding the pool is slippery tile and potentially dangerous were someone to slip and fall in the empty pool. However, the homeowner and his family don’t enter the area because they know it is under construction, and they don’t have neighbors over. A thief enters the property at night. Not knowing of the empty pool and slippery tile, he slips and falls.
While ordinarily the law would consider the area dangerous and thus consider the homeowner negligent, the homeowner has less liability to a person who illegally entered the property.
On the other hand, if the family has friends over during the construction and one of the invited children falls and hurts him or herself there, the family may bear liability to the injured child.
Slip and fall accidents are second only to traffic accidents with regard to causes of accident injuries. Not all falls lead to serious injuries, but even minor injuries from a slip and fall accident can lead to a lifetime of issues for accident victims. In these cases, victims and their families must often cope with emotional stress and economic challenges.
If you have sustained injuries on another person’s property after a slip and fall accident, you may be able to receive compensation for damages and losses related to your injuries.
If you are unsure about your next move, consult a San Bernardino slip and fall accident lawyer at Gomez Trial Attorneys as soon as possible to discuss your case and learn the best course of action for your circumstances.
The following answers to frequently asked questions about slip and fall accidents in San Bernardino offer preliminary information until you have the opportunity to meet with an attorney for a free case evaluation.
You have likely heard slip and fall accidents discussed on television or from your own experience and their name is self-explanatory. But among law firms and lawyers, slip and fall accidents have broader application. Slip and fall accidents include a wide range of preventable, unintentional falls that occur on another person’s property.
Slip and fall accidents cover far more than someone losing their footing on a slippery surface and falling down. Slip and fall accidents also include events when a person trips over a hazard and falls. Slip and fall accidents can occur anywhere. People can fall at another’s residence, while shopping at the mall, while taking an evening walk in San Bernardino, and many other places.
Negligence is the defining element of a slip and fall accident. Unintentional falls that occur as a result of property owner negligence are slip and fall accidents. Negligent actions that can lead to dangerous slip and fall accidents include the failure to clear trash and debris from storefronts, parking lots, and driveways; the failure to clean up spills promptly; and, the failure to replace loose carpet, broken tiles, and other worn floor surfaces.
No, suffering injuries from a slip and fall does not automatically translate into a negligent property owner who is liable for damages related to the accident and injuries. California law requires landowners and property owners to maintain safe premises for visitors. The notion of safety is somewhat subjective and often is the focus of disputes with insurance claims and San Bernardino slip and fall claims.
Property owners have a legal duty to warn visitors of any dangers on their premises and any dangers they should reasonably know of. Owners must take action to fix or eliminate any known hazards. Property owners who do not comply with their legal obligations open themselves up to financial liability if a visitor sustains injuries in a slip and fall accident.
If the property owner warned visitors of hazards with signs, cones, ropes, or a verbal warning, or you entered a prohibited area of the property, it’s less likely a court will find the owner negligent or liable for injuries from a slip and fall accident. It’s also likely a homeowners’ or business insurance carrier will deny a claim. Yet, do not assume anything about your case. Let an experienced slip and fall accident lawyer review the facts of your case and determine the viability of your claim.
Each state has a time limit, referred to as a statute of limitations, in which an injured person must take action if they want to sue a business or property owner for negligence. In California, you have two years to bring a lawsuit against the owner whose negligence led to your injuries. It’s doubtful that a California court will hear your slip and fall accident case if the statute of limitations has run out. Yet, the law does provide for some rare exceptions.
Delayed discovery is the most common situation that can pause, or toll, the statute of limitations time clock. Sometimes slip and fall accident victims might not immediately discover their injury. This most likely would occur with a brain injury or a child injury. Brain injuries sometimes do not show symptoms for weeks after the date of the incident.
Parents of children who suffer head trauma during a slip and fall accident might not notice an injury until their child is old enough to communicate symptoms or has issues with development. In these situations, a court might make an exception to the statute of limitations and begin the two-year time clock from the date of discovery.
Your San Bernardino slip and fall accident lawyer can evaluate your case and determine if your slip and fall accident claim warrants an exception. However, it’s best to take action as soon as possible so you do not have to risk missing out on recovering damages for your injuries and related losses.
Accidents that occur at work fall under the realm of workers’ compensation insurance and benefits. If you suffered slip and fall accident injuries at work, you must file a worker’s compensation claim with your employer’s insurance carrier. If your claim is approved, you will receive payments for a portion of the wages you have lost from missing work due to the slip and fall accident injuries. We can help you file that claim and make sure you get the compensation you deserve.
Workers’ comp benefits also pay for medical treatment costs related to your slip and fall accident injuries, but you will not receive compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. You cannot bring a lawsuit against your employer for more compensation. Workers’ comp insurance protects companies from employee lawsuits related to occupational injuries and illness, and receiving benefits does not hinge on liability.
However, sometimes another party might hold some responsibility for a slip and fall accident in the workplace. Your lawyer can review your slip and fall accident case and identify any potential third parties that could bear financial liability for your injuries. Additionally, you can sue your employer for a workplace injury under rare circumstances. Technically, you are not suing for damages for the injury, but other behavior.
Some examples of scenarios when your attorney might advise you to sue your employer after a slip and fall accident include:
It depends. The language in your lease agreement determines whether your landlord could be liable for slip and fall injuries. Some leases have specific clauses about maintenance and liability that prevent renters from bringing a lawsuit against their landlord or leasing company after a slip and fall. Additionally, you must prove your landlord was negligent to potentially recover damages.
Simply sustaining injuries does not automatically make your landlord liable for damages. If you have sustained injuries in a slip and fall accident outside your home, you need to have an experienced attorney read over your lease and advise you on the best course of action for your circumstances.
In most cases, trespassing disqualifies you from seeking compensation for damages from slip and fall injuries. You automatically assume risk and liability when you do not have permission to enter someone’s property.
Some exceptions do exist. California law prohibits property owners from willfully harming or setting traps for trespassers. If you slipped and fell because the owner set a trap, you have the right to bring a lawsuit. The law also protects child trespassers. If your child trespassed on someone’s property, fell from a hazard, and sustained injuries, you have the right to seek compensation from the property owner. A skilled slip and fall accident attorney can advise you on the viability of your claim if trespassing was involved.
If you bring a lawsuit against a property or business owner whose negligence led to your slip and fall injuries, you can receive compensation for a variety of damages in a settlement or jury award.
Depending on the facts of your claim and the severity of your slip and fall injuries, you could receive money to compensate you for:
Hiring an attorney is not necessary for you to resolve a slip and fall accident claim, but you do yourself a great disservice by not consulting with one. Insurance carriers often take claimants with legal counsel more seriously than those without. Hiring a lawyer for a slip and fall accident claim typically results in a better outcome for slip and fall accident victims.
Slip and fall accident lawyers have special training and experience to deal with insurance companies and their questionable tactics. Lawyers know how to negotiate with insurance adjusters and know how to apply the law to your case. It’s in your best interest to consult with a slip and fall accident lawyer who can evaluate your case and strategize to get you the maximum compensation possible for your injuries.
Injured in an accident? Get a real trial lawyer. Get Gomez.
If you prevail in your slip and fall accident claim, the amount of compensation you could receive varies greatly. Some slip and fall accident victims collect hundreds or thousands in damages, and others collect millions. Your attorney will evaluate your case, look to past cases, call upon experts, and use other tools to place a monetary value on your slip and fall accident claim.
We cannot predict an exact financial outcome for your claim, but these trends are common in San Bernardino slip and fall claims:
You can expect that the property owner and their insurance company will fight you every step of the way. They want to avoid liability altogether or at least, devalue your claim. A clearly negligent property owner may mean a quicker settlement. However, your lawyer may need more time to get you the money you deserve. If settlement negotiations fail, you may need to go to trial, which adds more time to how long you wait for a resolution on your claim.
Additionally, the severity of your slip and fall accident injuries also impacts the timeline of your slip and fall accident claim. Your attorney needs to know the full scope of your injuries and the likelihood of a full recovery to assign an appropriate value to your claim. Waiting for severe injuries to reach the maximum medical improvement can take time.
If you or a loved one is injured or otherwise harmed in a slip and fall accident in San Bernardino, contact the experienced San Bernadino personal injury lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys at (619) 237-3490. We offer a free first appointment to discuss your case, and are ready to hold San Bernardino property owners accountable when their negligence causes harm to innocent parties.
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