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Millions of people are hospitalized for fall-related injuries each year and this type of accident continues to rank as a leading cause of serious and fatal injuries, especially for individuals over the age of 65 years old. Although many falls only cause minor injuries, others can result in severe head trauma, disfiguring facial injuries, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, or broken bones in the arms, legs, or hips. Falling from a height is the most life-threatening, but most fall-related injuries are caused by slipping or tripping on wet, uneven, cluttered, or poorly maintained surfaces at ground level.
While falls are more prevalent among the elderly and workers in physically demanding industries, anyone can suffer from a serious, debilitating injury after an unexpected fall that drastically impacts their health and well-being. If you sustain an injury after a slip and fall and another party’s negligence contributed to the injury-causing accident, you have the right to pursue compensation in a personal injury claim. Learn about slip and fall cases below, then contact Rush Injury Law to discuss how we can help you recover the settlement you deserve.
Property owners have a duty of care to ensure their premises are free from safety hazards that could harm a lawful guest or visitor. They are legally obligated to properly maintain their property, identify any potential dangers likely to cause injury, promptly correct them, and either post a clear warning of the hazardous area or verbally warn people if they may encounter it. According to premises liability law, a property owner who fails to adhere to their duty of care and causes someone to sustain an injury is liable for the damages caused by this injury. The injured party can seek compensation for medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering they experience, but they must file their claim within the two-year statute of limitations, adhere to all appropriate laws, and clearly prove that the property owner was responsible for the injury.
Demonstrating liability in a slip and fall accident requires establishing “foreseeability.” If a reasonable person would be likely to foresee that a condition may pose a hazard to a lawful visitor, then they must address this hazard promptly and effectively. “Lawful” visitors refer to individuals a property owner invites onto their properties (such as visitors or customers of a business) and licensees who have implied permission to enter the property for their own purposes (such as mail carriers or utility company workers). Individuals who are trespassing or intruding are not considered lawful visitors, and property owners do not owe them a duty of care.
To win a slip and fall case, you must prove that the property owner is liable for your injury, that the injury-causing hazard was foreseeable and would have been prevented with proper attention, and that the damages you are claiming directly result from the slip and fall accident. However, before you can establish liability, you must determine who is responsible for your injury. Any of the following may be held liable in a slip and fall case:
After identifying the liable parties, you must prepare your personal injury claim and file it with the correct office before the statute of limitations expires. This involves gathering evidence of your injury through medical reports, doctor’s notes, and hospital bills, establishing liability for your injury by proving negligence, and calculating the full scope of damages you can claim under the law. With a valid slip and fall claim, you can recover damages for:
A common tactic employed by insurance companies is to argue that you share some portion of responsibility for the accident. They may argue that you were not a lawful visitor, you were found in an area where visitors are not expected, you were not paying attention, you were wearing unsafe footwear, or that the hazard should have been obvious. California personal injury law follows a “pure comparative negligence” rule, meaning that you can still recover compensation even if you partially contributed to the accident. If your case ends up in court, the judge will reduce your damage award according to your percentage of fault. For example, if your claim is worth $100,000, but you are deemed 30% at fault, you will receive $70,000 in a verdict.
While California does allow injured victims to represent themselves in most slip and fall cases, referred to as appearing “pro se,” this approach is rarely recommended. Succeeding in a personal injury case involves adhering to complex laws, procedures, and statutes of limitation that most non-legal professionals are simply not equipped to manage effectively. Representing yourself means you carry the burden of filing, managing, and directing every component of your claim on your own behalf. This includes identifying defendants, establishing their liability for your injury, gathering evidence of your losses, calculating your damages, sharing your records with the defendant, and negotiating with their insurance company for a fair settlement.
Even if liability seems obvious, approaching your case without a Petaluma slip and fall lawyer leaves you vulnerable to making serious mistakes or overlooking important details that can undermine your claim. Failure to meet the state’s strict procedural requirements can cause delays in the processing of your claim or result in your case being thrown out altogether. Insurance companies rarely offer an adequate settlement in their first offer, and they are well-known for pressuring victims to accept lowball settlements to speed the case along and reduce the payout they are responsible for providing. They will use any tactic imaginable to deny or reduce your claim, from contesting the severity of your injuries or the defendant’s liability for them to demanding large volumes of unnecessary paperwork that stall the claims process or agreeing to make a better offer if you do not seek representation from an attorney.
Negotiating with these companies is no easy feat, and accepting a settlement offer without consulting an attorney means you risk receiving insufficient compensation to cover your damages. A Petaluma injury attorney can help you assess your current and future medical bills to ensure you recover enough money to continue treatment until making a full recovery. They can also help you calculate other financial losses, such as loss of income while you are healing and loss of future earning potential if your injury has long-term consequences on your ability to work. If you cannot reach a settlement agreement that sufficiently covers your damages, your attorney can take your case to court for a civil trial and argue for the maximum compensation.
Sustaining a slip and fall injury on public property involves a different set of legal requirements and proceedings than sustaining such an injury on private or commercial property. Falling at a residence, store, restaurant, or hotel leaves the property owner liable for your damages, but public property is owned and managed by the government, and these entities are typically protected from civil claims. To recover compensation after a fall on public property, you will have to file a claim against the government entity who is directly responsible for the property, and this process involves a shorter statute of limitations as well as additional restrictions. In this case, you must prove that the hazard was caused by negligence or that a reasonable person under the same circumstances could have identified and corrected it before it could cause your injury.
Personal injury lawyers generally charge clients a contingency fee for their services, which is paid at the end of the case as a percentage of the total settlement award or trial verdict. In California, most lawyers request 33.33% of the obtained compensation. However, this fee can vary based on several factors, including the attorney’s experience, the complexity of your case, the nature and extent of your injuries, the damages you are seeking, and whether the case is resolved via settlement or a civil court trial. Cases that involve complex legal issues, multiple defendants, government entities, or a full trial require more time, effort, and resources to manage and will therefore be more expensive.
If you sustained an injury from a slip and fall that was caused by another party’s negligence, you need an experienced Petaluma slip and fall lawyer on your side to protect your rights and ensure you receive the maximum compensation. Rush Injury Law can help you handle all the procedural requirements of your case, gather evidence to support your claim, negotiate with the defendant’s insurance company, and take your case to court if they fail to make a fair settlement offer. Contact us today to hold the liable party accountable for your injury and obtain the compensation you need to move forward after your accident.
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