What Is a Trip and Fall Accident?
If you tripped and fell while on someone else’s property, whether that property was a friend’s house or apartment, store, gas station, office, restaurant, or any other property other than your own, you may be entitled to compensation for injuries you sustained as a result. However, in order to be entitled to compensation after a trip and fall accident, in addition to other things, you must prove that the property or business owner/renter did something wrong.
For example, it is not enough that you tripped and fell because there was something on the ground or in your way. Rather, you must show that the property or business owner/renter did something wrong to cause the “dangerous condition” to exist or remain.
Do I have a trip and fall case in California?
In California, to be eligible for compensation after a trip and fall accident, you must prove all four of these things:
- The person or entity you believe to be responsible either owned, leased, occupied, or controlled the property where you fell; AND
- That person or entity did something wrong (was negligent) in the use or maintenance of the property; AND
- You were harmed; AND
- That person’s or entity’s wrongdoing (negligence) was a substantial reason (factor) in causing your harm.
However, what you must prove in a trip and fall case does not stop there. Even if you are able to prove the above four things, you will also have to show that (a) you were paying reasonable attention for your own safety at the time of the accident, (b) the thing that caused you to fall was a “dangerous condition,” and (c) that the dangerous condition was not so obvious that you should have seen or noticed it.
Further, if your trip and fall occurred on a sidewalk, the things you must show and do to be entitled to compensation increase. There are special rules regarding when municipal governments can be held liable for sidewalk trip and falls, the process you must go through in order to make a claim for a sidewalk trip and fall, and the time limit in which you must make a claim. Making things even more complicated, cities in California each have their own rules regarding sidewalk trip and falls.
As you can see, trip and fall cases are very complex. This is why trip and fall accidents almost always require the help of an attorney.
Why hire an attorney for my trip and fall case?
The hardest parts in a trip and fall case are usually showing that (a) the business or property owner/renter did something wrong which in turn caused your fall and (b) that the thing that caused you to trip and fall was a “dangerous condition.” There are a few ways to show this. Making this showing, however, often takes the knowledge and expertise of a good personal injury lawyer.
Courts have decided that there are different ways in which a business or property owner can be at fault (negligent) for a trip and fall accident. These different decisions by the courts have become law (known as case law) in California.
With trip and fall case law in mind, a skilled personal injury lawyer can gather appropriate evidence and argue that the property or business owner/renter in your trip and fall case did the same or similar things as the parties who courts in the past have found to be to blame.
This oftentimes requires some creativity on your lawyer’s part, as well as knowing relevant case law.