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Trip and Fall Accidents and Premises Liability in California


It happens all the time. Someone is walking along, minding their business, when they stumble upon an unexpected change in the surface on which they are strolling. Literally. When this happens and they cannot regain their balance, they may end up in a heap, in a world of hurt, or both.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than 1 million Americans  are injured when they slip or trip and fall each year. Of these, more than 17, 000 people succumb to their injuries.

Keep reading to learn more about trip and fall injuries, and possible legal recourse if you or someone you love has been hurt in a trip and fall accident in California.

Indoor and outdoor tripping hazards

The CDC splits slip, trip and fall accidents into two groups based on where they happen. These are officially identified as same-level falls and elevated falls. However, these accidents could also be classified as indoor and outdoor falls. Tripping hazards could also be identified accordingly.

Common outdoor tripping hazards include:

  • Potholes
  • Broken sidewalks or footpaths
  • Debris on sidewalks or footpaths, in parking lots, etc.
  • Stairs or steps

Some common indoor tripping hazards include:

  • Torn or loose carpeting
  • Broken tiles
  • Loose or warped floor boards
  • Crumpled entrance matting
  • Stairs or steps

The mechanics of and injuries resulting from trip and fall accidents

Experts say trip and fall accidents usually happen while the foot is moving forward and a disruption brings this so-called “swing” to an abrupt halt. The result is either a minor stumble or a more significant loss of balance. Either way, the person who has tripped usually falls forward and often ends up with injuries to their upper extremities, head or knees.

Here are some examples :

  • Fractures
  • Cuts
  • Bruises
  • Sprains

Suing someone if you were injured in a trip and fall accident

If you are hurt when you tripped and fell on someone’s property, you may be wondering if you can sue someone, and if so, whom. The answer is, it depends. Under California law, you may have a viable premises liability case if you can prove that:

  • The person who owns, rents, occupies, or is otherwise responsible for the property where you were hurt;
  • Did not take reasonable steps to keep the property free from hazards; and
  • That he or she failed to take reasonable step to identify and remedy any unsafe conditions; or
  • Provide adequate warning about any hazards.

You must also prove that this negligence caused or contributed to the accident in which you were hurt.

Some of the factors considered are:

  • Where the property is located
  • Accessibility of the property to visitors
  • The chances of someone getting hurt
  • The potential extent of any harm
  • Whether the defendant was aware of or should have been aware of the hazard that created the risk of injury
  • Any hardships associatedwith ameliorating the risk of such harm
  • How much control the defendant had over the hazard posed the risk of injury

Compensation  for applicable losses

The type of compensation you may seek will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. In general, you may be able to seek compensation for the following losses:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of past and future income due to the inability to work
  • Emotional distress
  • Past and future medical expenses

Something else is to keep in mind is that there are strict deadlines for taking legal action after a trip and fall accident. In most cases, this is two years from the time you were hurt. There are exceptions, however. For example, you have six months in which to file an administrative claim if you are suing a government agency. On the other hand, if you were still a minor when you were hurt, the deadline for initiating a lawsuit will not apply until you turn 18.

As always, we are here to help. To learn more about your options if you were injured in a trip and fall accident, contact the legal team at LawPLA, today.


PLEASE NOTE: This is not a representation, warranty, or guarantee of a future result or outcome. Every case is different just like every one of our clients.