According to the World Health Organization (WHO), falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths worldwide. Every year, millions of people are injured in slip and fall or trip and fall accidents across the United States.
It is perhaps no surprise that one of the most frequently asked questions we get at Cohen & Marzban is if slip and fall cases are hard to win in Los Angeles.
The short answer is SOMETIMES.
Since every case is unique, we recommend you always talk to a slip and fall attorney before making any assumptions.
Cohen & Marzban has over 45 years of experience fighting for clients who sustain injuries in slip and fall accidents. We hope this article will shed some light on whether slip and fall cases are hard to win.
Why Slip and Fall Cases Are Sometimes Hard to Win
#1. You Need to Prove Negligence
To succeed in your personal injury claim, you need to prove the defendant was negligent.
Negligence is any act (or failure to act) by the defendant that results in a breach of their duty of care that could likely cause injuries to others.
It has four key elements, namely:
1. Duty of care owed – The defendant owes the plaintiff a duty of care.
In California, property owners must ensure their premises are reasonably safe for others. This does not only apply to public or municipal property owners but also includes private property owners as well.
This “duty of care” extends to customers, employees, tenants, family, friends, guests, etc.
Note that a property owner typically does not owe a duty of care to trespassers.
2. Duty of care breached – The defendant fails to fulfill their duty of care due to a careless act or failure to act.
Property owners typically breach their duty of care if they know or should have known about a potentially dangerous situation but do not rectify or warn others about it.
3. Causation – The defendant’s breach of duty is the proximate (main) cause of the accident.
You have to prove that the breach of duty by the property owner is the cause of your injuries.
4. Damages – The plaintiff suffers compensable losses as a result of the accident.
You have to motivate or provide evidence for the damages you are claiming.
The elements of negligence might seem straightforward, but proving negligence is typically another story. That is why you need an experienced slip and fall lawyer with a proven track record on your side.
For example, let’s assume you invite a friend over for dinner and drinks. After too many drinks, he loses his balance, slips on your kitchen floor, and injures his back.
Did you breach your duty of care? Are you liable for damages, or is he responsible for his injury?
According to California Civil Code 1714(c), you are not liable for damages. It states:
“Except as provided in subdivision (d), no social host who furnishes alcoholic beverages to any person may be held legally accountable for damages suffered by that person, or for injury to the person or property of, or death of, any third person, resulting from the consumption of those beverages.”
#2. Determining Reasonable Care
CACI No. 1001. Basic Duty of Care (Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions) mentions factors a jury should consider to determine if a defendant exercised reasonable care:
“A person who [owns/leases/occupies/controls] property is negligent if that person fails to use reasonable care to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition.
A person who [owns/leases/occupies/controls] property must use reasonable care to discover any unsafe conditions and to repair, replace, or give adequate warning of anything that could be reasonably expected to harm others.
In deciding whether [name of defendant] used reasonable care, you may consider, among other factors, the following:
- The location of the property;
- The likelihood that someone would come on to the property in the same manner as [name of plaintiff] did;
- The likelihood of harm;
- The probable seriousness of such harm;
- Whether [name of defendant] knew or should have known of the condition that created the risk of harm;
- The difficulty of protecting against the risk of such harm; [and]
- The extent of [name of defendant]’s control over the condition that created the risk of harm; [and]
- [Other relevant factors].
As can be seen from the above, many factors should be considered before it is possible to determine if a defendant exercised reasonable care.
Adults older than 60 years have the majority of fatal falls. (Source)
It is often difficult to determine if a defendant exercised reasonable care.
A 75-year-old woman slips on a liquid that spilled on the floor of a store, falls, and breaks her hip. She argues that the store should have foreseen that someone could slip on it and should have cleaned it up.
Do you think the store did not exercise reasonable care? Probably.
What if the store argues that the spillage was visible, had just happened and that they didn’t have an opportunity to clean it up in time? Do you still think the store did not exercise reasonable care?
Slip and fall cases are often not so straightforward.
How to Win a Slip and Fall Case in Los Angeles
Here are some tips to improve your chances of winning a slip and fall case.
1. Gather as Much Evidence as Possible
If you can, do the following or ask someone to help you:
- Notify the store owner, property owner, or someone in authority about what happened
- Take photos or a video clip of the area where you fell, what you slipped on or tripped over, and your injuries
- Obtain the contact information of any witnesses
- Check to see if there are cameras that could have recorded your fall and take photos of them
- Keep any receipts and request copies of medical reports
Do not discuss your fall and injuries with the defendant’s insurance company or post it on social media.
2. Time Is of the Essence
The longer you wait to seek damages for your injuries, the harder it becomes to build a solid case. For example, witnesses may no longer be available or remember what happened and footage from security cameras may no longer be accessible.
In addition, the California statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years, as per the California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 335.1., which states:
“Within two years: An action for assault, battery, or injury to, or for the death of, an individual caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.”
Note that in the case of a government entity, such as the City of Los Angeles, you only have six months to file a claim for damages. If you miss this deadline, you will not be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit afterward.
3. Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
Insurance companies often do not take slip and fall claims submitted by the victim seriously. In addition, unless you have extensive experience and expertise in personal injury lawsuits, you should hire a slip and fall attorney to represent you.
Using a top-notch personal injury firm, such as Cohen & Marzban, can significantly boost your chances of getting a fair settlement offer.
With over 45 years of experience in slip and fall cases and $2,000,000,000+ recovered for clients, we know the ins and outs of personal injury claims.
All new clients receive a FREE consultation. If we agree that your case is a good fit for our firm, we do not get paid unless you get paid!
Call us at (310) 464-2670 to schedule an appointment. Our phone lines are open 24/7.