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Slip and falls might be some of the most common premises liability accidents, but that doesn’t make yours any less unique. At Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP we take a distinctly personal approach to premises liability and slip, trip and fall injury law. We understand each case is different and deserves a tailored legal strategy. If you have injuries from a slip and fall somewhere in Riverside, California, we can help. Contact our Riverside slip and fall injury attorneys today for a complimentary case evaluation.
What are the Premises Liability Laws in California?
A slip and fall accident is a type of premises liability claim in California. “Premises liability” refers to a property owner’s duty to keep a premises reasonably safe for guests and visitors. All property owners in Riverside County have this responsibility. If a property owner fails to fulfill his/her duties of care according to what a “reasonable and prudent” owner would have done in the same situation, he or she could be liable for damages. Property owners owe different duties of care based on the classification of the visitor:
The invitee has the highest classification as people the property owner invites to the premises for the owner’s purposes, such as to sell goods or services. Grocery store shoppers are examples of invitees. Property owners legally have to inspect a property for hidden hazards, repair known hazards, and post warning signs of existing defects before welcoming invitees onto a premises.
This is a step lower than an invitee, as someone who visits a property for his/her own purposes. A salesperson or a construction company are examples of licensees. Property owners still owe duties of care to licensees: they must repair known hazards and warn licensees of un-repaired ones, but they do not have an obligation to inspect a property for unknown hazards.
They do not have the owner’s permission to enter the property. Property owners only owe duties of care to child trespassers (anyone under the age of 18). A premises must be reasonably safe for child trespassers who may wander onto the property. Examples of duties could be covering a swimming pool or putting warning signs above a ditch. The only duty of care owners owe to adult trespassers is not to intentionally cause them harm.
Understanding your classification as a visitor can help you determine whether or not a property owner was negligent and is responsible for your slip and fall or other accident. In general, the California courts will look at what another property owner reasonably would have done in similar circumstances. If the property owner in your case acted outside of these standards and contributed to your accident, that person will most likely be liable for your injuries. Contact a Riverside premises liability attorney to help you with the specifics of your accident and determine if you have a valid case.
Time Limit for Filing a Riverside Premises Liability Claim
Like all types of civil cases, there is a time limit for filing a premises liability claim in California. The state enforces statutes of limitations on civil claims to protect defendants from unnecessarily drawn-out claims. To encourage plaintiffs to come forward with their claims as soon as possible, California has deadlines in place for each type of claim.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Premises Liability in Riverside?
The statutes of limitations that may apply to a premises liability claim include:
- Personal injury: two years
- Property damage: three years
- Wrongful death: two years
In most personal injury cases, the clock starts ticking on the date the injury occurs. If you don’t notice your injuries until later, however, the clock won’t start until you discover them. For example, if you just discovered you have mesothelioma and want to file a workers compensation claim against an employer you had 30 years ago for exposing you to asbestos in the workplace, your statute of limitations won’t start until the date of your diagnosis. Contact an attorney at Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP to learn your exact deadline for filing. Call today! (951) 363-2410
What Causes Riverside Slip and Fall Accidents?
Unsafe floors, slippery shoes, and negligent property owners can culminate in a painful slip and fall accident. Falls are some of the most common causes of fractured wrists and hips, head and brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries in victims. Some people may never fully recover from a serious slip and fall accident. Riverside stores, nursing homes, parking lots, and other premises can contain many slip, trip, and fall hazards if the property owner is negligent, including:
- Spilled liquids
- Waxy, oily, or greasy floors
- Sidewalk and parking lot defects
- Debris, trash, or food on the ground
- Obstacles blocking the aisle
- No “Caution: Wet Floors” signs
- Loose carpets or exposed wiring
- Inadequate property lighting
- Faulty or dangerous staircases/railings
Any property element or defect the property owner reasonably should have noticed and repaired could be cause for a personal injury claim. What is “reasonable” depends on the situation. If it just started raining and you slip & fall in a Riverside grocery store, the owner might not be liable since he or she reasonably could not have posted a warning sign or dried the floors in time. If the rainstorm had been going on for an hour, however, the courts could find the store owner guilty of negligence for failing to take reasonable steps to prevent slip and fall accidents. A Riverside personal injury lawyer can help you determine if you have a valid slip and fall case.
Besides Slip and Falls, What Are the Most Common Premises Liability Accidents?
Slip and falls might be the most common type of premises liability claim, but they aren’t the only type. Many different incidents can result in a premises liability lawsuit in California. Any property defect or hazard the owner fails to fix could cause a personal injury. It’s important to discuss your rights with a lawyer after any type of accident on someone else’s property in Riverside. The following, however, are the most common types of premises liability accidents:
- Swimming pool accidents/unintentional drowning
- Exposure to hazardous substances
- Elevator, escalator, and stairwell accidents
- Dog bites and other animal attacks
- School campus and daycare injuries
- Parking lot accidents
- Amusement park injuries
- Negligent security/criminal activity
Although property owners are responsible for the majority of these property elements, many premises liability cases come down to the liability of more than one person. It may be possible to maximize your odds of recovery by naming third parties as additional defendants in your personal injury claim. A negligent lifeguard at a public pool or the criminal who assaulted you in Riverside could share liability. Talk to our attorneys about your specific case for more information.
How Often Do Slip and Fall Accidents Happen?
According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), falls are the reason for about eight million trips to the emergency room each year. Slip and falls in particular account for an average of one million hospital visits. Floors and flooring materials cause about two million injurious falls every year. Falls cause thousands of injuries and deaths each year. Even a slip and fall that seems minor could prove fatal to an elderly individual. The NFSI reports that 67% of fatal fall victims are 75 years or older.
Slip and fall accidents tend to occur on certain types of properties more than others. Grocery stores in Riverside are hot spots for slip and falls, as are big box stores such as Home Depot or Wal-Mart. These locations can have spilled food and drink on the ground, items in the aisles, or freshly-waxed floors that can contribute to slip and falls. Other locations where slip and fall accidents are likely to occur include hotels, spas, small businesses, parking lots, public parks, private residences, and the workplace.
Who is Liable if I Slip and Fall?
In most cases, the person or business that owns the property where your accident occurred will be liable, or legally responsible, for your damages. California law holds property owners responsible for the safety and maintenance of their premises. Failing to take care of a slip and fall hazard that the owner knew or reasonably should have known about is negligence.
Filing a Slip and Fall Claim Against the Government
If you slipped, tripped, and fell on public or government-owned property, you still have the right to file a premises liability claim. Although the rules of sovereign immunity protect the government from most tort claims, the California Tort Claims Act grants the ability to file a claim against a government entity if it, or one of its on-duty employees, caused your accident. Since the basis of most premises liability claims is negligence, you generally have the right to bring a claim against the government.
The rules for filing, however, will differ from a standard slip and fall claim. Instead of going straight to the civil courts with your claim, you must submit (in writing) an official Notice of Intent to Sue with the defendant. You must submit this notice within six months of your premises liability accident if you’re claiming personal injury, property damage, or wrongful death. For all other claims, you have one year from the date of the incident. If you miss your deadline, you’ll most likely lose your right to compensation.
File your initial notice directly with the at-fault entity’s clerk or governing board (most agencies have special claim forms for just this purpose), or with the California Department of General Services Office of Risk Management if the defendant is a state employee or agency. If the department doesn’t have a form available, create your own. Include your name, address, a description of the accident, and the dollar amount you’re claiming.
The defendant has 45 days to file a response, at which point you may continue with either settlement negotiations or a lawsuit. If the defendant accepts the claim, you’ll enter into mediation in an attempt to achieve a settlement. If you receive a denial, you’ll also get a Notice of Right to Sue. You have six months from the date you receive this letter to file a lawsuit against the government. Don’t go up against the government without legal representation.
Your Rights as an Injured Slip and Fall Victim
The vast majority of premises liability accidents, including slip and falls, are preventable. Had the property owner involved in your case fulfilled the minimum duties of care, your injuries might not have happened. We urge you to speak to a lawyer about your case not just for the potential financial recovery, but for justice. Holding the negligent property owner liable for his/her misconduct could shed light on dangerous business practices, and prevent a future accident like your own.
The first step toward obtaining compensation for your injuries is a conversation with an attorney. You deserve to learn your rights and discuss the potential value of your claim. California laws may entitle you to payment for your past and future hospital bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages relating to your premises accident. You could obtain a settlement or verdict in the thousands depending on your injuries. If you have reason to believe someone else caused your Riverside premises liability accident, don’t wait – call Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP.
What to Do After a Riverside Premises Liability Injury?
As the victim of a slip and fall accident in Riverside, protect your rights by hiring a lawyer. The personal injury lawyers at Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP has experience representing these types of cases throughout Southern California. We have the knowledge and resources to help you identify the responsible property owner, prove your premises liability case, and secure compensation for your fall-related damages. You might be eligible to recover the costs of your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses.