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Frequently Asked Questions
DO I NEED VIDEO SURVEILLANCE OF MY FALL?
Although video is always helpful in establishing the exact nature of the hazard that led to the client's fall, it is not required to establish liability in a slip-and-fall accident case. If there is no video surveillance footage that captures the fall, liability can still be established through the client's personal testimony, witness testimony, pictures taken after the accident, and the nature of th how the fall itself occurred (i.e. slipping while wearing rubber soled shoes is indicative of a slick substance on the floor).
WHAT IF THERE IS VIDEO OF MY FALL BUT IT WAS DELETED?
Video surveillance footage can be critical in establishing liability in a slip-and-fall accident. This is why our law firm always acts swiftly to ensure that any video is preserved by sending the at-fault party an evidence preservation letter. If the at-fault party deletes footage after receiving a letter that puts them on notice of the law suit and requests that they retain all related surveillance footage, we can ask for a special jury instruction at trial which directs the jury to find that whatever footage was destroyed would have been incriminatory to the defendant.
WHO ARE THE POTENTIAL DEFENDANTS IN A SLIP-AND-FALL CASE?
There are several potential defendants in a slip-and-fall case. These include:
The property owner is often the primary defendant in slip and fall accident cases. Property owners have a legal duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition and to warn visitors of any hazards that cannot be eliminated. If a property owner fails to fulfill this duty and a slip and fall accident occurs as a result, they may be held liable for the victim's injuries. Examples of negligent behavior on the part of a property owner might include failure to repair a broken sidewalk, failure to address slippery conditions on the property, or failure to post warning signs for hazards like construction zones.
Party Leasing the Property
In some cases, a party leasing a property may also be held liable for a slip and fall accident. For example, if a business leases a property and the lease agreement requires them to maintain the property, they may be held responsible for any injuries that occur due to their failure to do so. It's important to note that the property owner may still be held liable in these situations, depending on the terms of the lease agreement.
Finally, employees who are negligent in their duties may also be held liable for slip and fall accidents. For example, if a grocery store employee mops a floor and fails to put up a warning sign, they may be held responsible if a customer slips and falls as a result. Similarly, if an employee fails to properly maintain a piece of equipment that causes a slip and fall accident, they may be held responsible for the victim's injuries.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON DEFENSES IN A SLIP AND FALL CASE?
The most common defenses in a slip and fall case include:
Comparative negligence is a common defense used in slip and fall cases. This defense claims that the plaintiff (the injured party) was also at fault for the accident. For example, the defendant may argue that the plaintiff was texting while walking and not paying attention to their surroundings. If the defendant can prove that the plaintiff was partially at fault for the accident, the plaintiff's damages may be reduced proportionately.
Assumption of risk
Assumption of risk is another common defense in slip and fall cases. This defense claims that the plaintiff was aware of the danger and voluntarily assumed the risk of injury. For example, the defendant may argue that the plaintiff knew the floor was wet but chose to walk on it anyway. If the defendant can prove that the plaintiff assumed the risk of injury, the plaintiff may be barred from recovering damages.
Lack of notice
Lack of notice is a defense that claims the defendant did not have sufficient time to fix the hazardous condition that caused the accident. For example, the defendant may argue that they were not aware of the broken step that caused the plaintiff to fall. If the defendant can prove that they did not have notice of the hazard, they may not be liable for the plaintiff's injuries.
Open and obvious
The open and obvious defense claims that the hazard that caused the accident was so obvious that a reasonable person would have noticed it and avoided it. For example, the defendant may argue that the pothole in the parking lot was so large and obvious that the plaintiff should have seen it and avoided it. If the defendant can prove that the hazard was open and obvious, they may not be liable for the plaintiff's injuries.
The pre-existing condition defense claims that the plaintiff's injuries were caused by a pre-existing condition and not the slip and fall accident. For example, the defendant may argue that the plaintiff's back pain was caused by a pre-existing condition and not the fall. If the defendant can prove that the plaintiff's injuries were not caused by the slip and fall accident, they may not be liable for the plaintiff's damages.
ARE SLIP-AND-FALL CASES HARD TO WIN?
While slip-and-fall accidents are common and can result in serious injuries, proving liability can be challenging, which in turn makes slip-and-fall cases harder to win than some other types of personal injury cases.
The biggest challenge in most slip-and-fall cases is establishing liability for the accident. To win the case, the plaintiff must prove that the property owner or the business had a duty to ensure the safety of their premises, that they breached that duty, and that the breach caused the plaintiff's injuries.
To establish the property owner's duty of care, you must prove that they knew or should have known about the dangerous condition that caused the slip-and-fall accident. This can be challenging, especially if the dangerous condition was temporary, such as a spill or a slippery surface. Additionally, you usually must prove that the property owner had a reasonable amount of time to address the dangerous condition and failed to do so. This can be difficult to prove, especially if the property owner claims they were not aware of the condition.
Even if you can establish liability, there may be other factors that could impact the case, such as ta defense of contributory negligence. For example, if the plaintiff was texting on their phone and not paying attention to where they were walking, they may be partially responsible for the accident, which could reduce the damages they are entitled to.
Overall, slip-and-fall accident cases can be complex and challenging to win. However, with a thorough investigation, strong evidence, and skilled legal representation, our law firm has a high success rate with these cases.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a slip-and-fall accident, don't hesitate to contact us for a free consultation. Phillips & Associates has been handling slip-and-fall cases since 1991, and we have the knowledge and expertise to help you navigate the legal process and get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
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5850 Canoga Ave., Ste. 400
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
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990 Highland Dr. Ste. 212-D
Solana Beach, CA 92075
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