When you hear about a slip-and-fall accident that seriously injured someone, the incident typically happened in a store, mall, hotel, office building or other place that is open to the public. But a severe fall injury can happen on any property, including somebody’s home. If you get hurt in a fall on somebody else’s private property, you may be able to get full compensation for the costs of your injuries, such as your medical bills, lost wages and the pain and suffering you are experiencing.
How does slip-and-fall law apply to somebody’s house?
California law calls slip-and-fall cases premises liability. Property owners owe a duty to lawful visitors to keep their premises reasonably safe and free from hidden traps, which includes things like wet floors, broken handrails and holes in the ground filled with leaves. If the property owner cannot fix the trap, they must at least post warning signs to make visitors aware of the danger.
When an owner ignores this legal duty, visitors can be unable to notice or avoid a dangerous situation until it is too late. Trip-and-fall injuries can be quite serious, especially if you hurt your head, neck, spine or hip. An injury to one of these body parts can cause permanent or long-lasting disability.
Elements of a premises liability claim
To prove your claim, you must first show that the property owner owed you a duty of care. For example, a homeowner generally does not owe a legal duty to a trespasser. You likely will have to show that you were invited or allowed on the property to establish a legal duty.
Next, you will have to prove that the property owner did not live up to their duty. For example, you could be visiting someone’s home and fall on the steps leading up to the front door. You use the handrail, which, unbeknownst to you, is broken. The rail collapses under you and you fall, hitting your head on one of the steps. Later, the evidence could show that the homeowner knew the handrail was unsafe but did not bother to repair it or put up a sign warning visitors not to use it.
Insurance companies try to avoid paying
If your injuries are severe, you will probably have to deal with their homeowners’ insurance provider. Insurance companies usually try to avoid paying the full amount of claims, so your best bet for an acceptable outcome is to work with an experienced personal injury attorney.