At Sette Law, our Petaluma personal injury attorneys know that most people are at least vaguely aware of slip and fall litigation. For instance, someone falls in a retail store, breaks a leg and subsequently sues the store owner to recover financial losses due to the serious injury. Lawyers, however, are quick to point out that this kind of law is under the umbrella of premises liability and is often anything but simple. In this July blog our Petaluma injury and accident attorneys will discuss a few of the complexities and details included in this arena of law.
Personal injury attorneys say that slip and fall incidents are very common civil court actions nationally and in Petaluma. Accident lawyers say that slip and fall liability allows the average person to recoup often significant costs incurred due to the negligence of another party. Certainly, our injury personal lawyers agree that this legal option creates greater vigilance on the part of property owners, provides financial redress for losses suffered by slip and fall victims and helps to protect people from injury. Attorneys believe that premises law serves the cause of justice, but has also been abused by litigants in the past. Consequently, laws have been refined and increasingly included protections for property owners from people who claim harm when there has been no verifiable injury accident. Lawyers must be aware of provisions that protect both the public from harm and the property owner from frivolous claims of losses due to injury.
Attorneys Outline Slip and Fall Liability
Petaluma personal injury lawyers will first verify that the condition or item that caused a slip and fall accident can be linked to the premises owner or to his or her employee. Secondly, our liability lawyers will seek to establish these parties knew about the danger and still did nothing to remedy the condition that led to the injury. Attorneys know that current law indicates that owners exert the most control over their property and therefore bear significant responsibility to protect users of their property from harm and injury.
Our personal injury lawyers use the following example – If the owner of a boutique hotel in Petaluma knows an air conditioning unit is leaking water onto the entry stairs below and does nothing to remedy that condition, a patron or visitor who slips and falls would likely have a valid claim for personal injury. Attorneys would point to the building owner (or an employee) as responsible for the Petaluma injury.
But lawyers say that other circumstances could change potential liability. Consider a guest on the second floor of hotel property who decides to have a smoke and chooses to do so sitting atop the window air conditioning unit. It breaks free and crashes to the ground, leaving the guest with a debilitating back injury. Here, attorneys for the property owner would have a strong case against liability for the injury accident. Lawyers would rightly point out that air conditioners were never intended for use as chairs and the responsibility lies with the guest. Our Petaluma personal injury attorneys say that uses outside the “normal” and commonly understood can imply a lack of liability on the part of the property owner.
Slip and fall injury accidents send lawyers into investigations that can involve several layers of potential liability. Often a building will have an owner, a manager, a lessee or tenant and employees. Petaluma personal injury attorneys are tasked with making certain an injury plaintiff identifies the proper responsible party. When this is not initially clear, an accident and injury lawyer can issue a notice of claim for more than one party – for example, an owner and a manager. If the responsible person is not noticed in the initial claim, the plaintiff may lose the ability to file at a later time. Slip and fall injury attorneys often leave the determination of responsibility up to insurance companies for the respective parties.
Liability Statutes Protect the Public from Injury
Attorneys explain that property owners have a specific responsibility that’s defined as a Duty of Care. This comes with the privilege of owning real property. The law says that a property owner must take reasonable care to provide a safe environment that protects visitors and others from injury. But attorneys say this concept really can’t be exactly defined and universally applied to specific conditions that contribute to a Petaluma slip and fall accident. Lawyers for the injured party will have to carefully scrutinize the details of each case.
Our Petaluma personal injury lawyers offer the following example: A young child spills a bottle of water on the floor of a neighborhood grocery store and mom and toddler run off to find a store employee. Within seconds another shopper comes along and slips and falls, sustaining a serious knee injury. Lawyers say it’s not likely the store would be held responsible because the owner or employees had no notice or knowledge of the spill. However, if store management knew about the spill, left the water in the floor for thirty minutes and then a shopper slipped and fell, the store would likely shoulder liability. Attorneys further explain that property owners can take precautions to protect themselves. If store employees had surrounded the spill area with barriers and “caution” signs and someone breeched those barriers and fell, the property owner may not be held liable for the accident. Attorneys point out that ideas such as reasonable judgment pay a role in slip and fall injury claims.
Petaluma personal injury lawyers don’t expect average consumers to know all the nuances of slip and fall cases. Our most experienced liability attorneys continue to encounter new circumstances that call for additional research. But, one practice we can advise for people who experience a slip and fall accident is to pay attention to the details of the accident. Our attorneys say that noting the substance on the floor that caused the fall is very important for injury attorneys presenting evidence to the court. Our Petaluma liability attorneys know that memory can change and fade with the passage of time, and slip and fall victims must be very clear and consistent about their experience.