The Role of Comparative Negligence in a Slip and Fall Case
Interviewer: What is the term “comparative negligence” referred to?
Richard Sailer: Comparative negligence is something that the insurance companies and the defense will argue. The gist of that is the person that fell is ultimately responsible for safe passage. For example, they should have been watching where they were walking, they should have avoided the spill, they should have been walking slower, they should have been looking down, and they should have been wearing better footwear. The argument is that they were comparatively responsible for the accident and therefore the store should only bear a part of the responsibility and pay a portion of the damages.
It is Helpful to Have an Accident Report Filed at the Time of the Fall
Interviewer: Do accident reports have to be filled out at the time of the fall?
Richard Sailer: Often times we’ll get what is called a blind claim. That’s where a client will call and say they were injured in a local supermarket and went home. The client’s ankle then becomes swollen enough that they went to the emergency room, had x-rays done, and realized that they have a fracture. However, they never bothered to mention it to anyone at the store while they were there. As a result, store has no knowledge of the incident ever having occurred, so there was no investigation that went into it. Additionally, they probably didn’t have access to any surveillance video because there was no incident report. Lastly, they probably didn’t interview any witnesses, so it’s a little more difficult to proceed at that point without some real credible evidence that it even occurred.
The Owner of a Property Where the Slip and Fall Occurred is Responsible for Damages and Medical Expenses
Interviewer: If I am injured in an accident, who is going to pay for my medical expenses?
Richard Sailer: Assuming that there was negligence on the part of the store, the store or the owner of the property would pay for it. You would have to establish that there was a dangerous condition and that they created or were on notice of the dangerous condition. Those are the elements that are necessary to establish a claim. If you can establish that you have a valid case, then the owner of the property would be responsible.
The Statute of Limitations for Premises Liability Cases in California
Interviewer: How long does someone have to bring a lawsuit for premises liability?
Richard Sailer: The statute of limitations in California is two years if you’re dealing with private property. If you’re dealing with any other government owned property—a city park, a county park, or a city sidewalk— then you’re on a six month statute of limitations.