4 Things You Should Know If You've Been Injured in a Fall
Falls can cause devastating injuries. Over the years, I have seen clients who have suffered broken bones, disc injuries to their backs, ligament injuries to their knees and suffered other serious consequences as a result of falls. This article explains your rights if you have fallen on someone else's premises.
1. A dangerous condition must exist on the premises.
A property owner is responsible for dangerous conditions on his premises which he has knowledge of or which he should know about. A property owner is not an insurer of the safety of his premises. In other words, just because somebody falls as a result of a dangerous condition, the owner is not necessarily liable for the injuries caused by the fall. Ultimately, it is a question of whether the property owner acted reasonably under the circumstances.
2. The owner of the store must have knowledge of the dangerous condition.
If the property owner knew or should have known of a dangerous condition, the law holds that the property owner is responsible for injuries caused by the dangerous condition.
Spills and debris on the floor are a common cause of falls in stores. In some instances, although rare, the store owner actually has knowledge of the condition and yet fails to clean the area after such knowledge. This is often the case where an area has been cleaned of a spill but the area was not cleaned properly. In other instances, the floor may not have been cleaned or inspected for several hours before the fall. If this were the case, the property owner may have been put on constructive notice of the condition; that is, if the owner had conducted a reasonable inspection, the condition most likely would have been identified and cleaned up.
3. You injury must have been caused by the dangerous condition.
If your fall caused you to suffer injuries, the store would be responsible for your medical bills even if they are covered by other insurance. The store would also be responsible for any economic losses such as lost earnings or interference with your capacity to work in the future. Finally, the store would be liable for compensatory damages for your pain and suffering incurred as a result of your injuries, and for pain and suffering reasonably certain to occur in the future.
4. Five steps to take if you have been involved in a fall in a store.
If you have been involved in a fall in a store and are physically able to do any kind of informal investigation, you should do the following:
- Always try to identify what the substance was which caused the fall- this can be done through direct observation or by talking to store employees who respond to the fall.
- Find out where the substance came from.
- Observe who comes to clean the area and talk to them about what the substance is and how long it was there.
- Get the names of witnesses if possible.
- Always fill out a report with management.
Many times the above information is not directly available to you. However, if it is it can be vital to support a legal claim. Even if you can not obtain the information directly, such information can be obtained in the course of a lawsuit by subpoenaing records and taking the depositions of store personnel. The statute of limitations for an action against a store for personal injuries in California is two years. This means that you have two years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit. However, time is of the essence. Do not wait until the end of the two year time to act. For more information call us now at 510-337-1600 or e-mail us.