Slip and fall injuries are one of the most common legal issues just about everywhere. Unfortunately, this makes them ripe for misinformation and misinterpretation when filtered through the lens of media or uninformed legal “advice”. With so much of this stuff swirling around out there, you might even be unknowingly spreading some yourself. To combat this misinformation and help you understand how you might be liable or when you might be owed some compensation, let’s take a look at who might be liable for a slip and fall in a few hypothetical situations within the State of California.
Slipping and Falling While Trespassing
It’s a common myth that you’ve probably heard before. A thief or some other ne’er-do-well breaks into your home intending to cause you harm but, the shock of all shocks ends up slipping on a spill and breaking their back. All of a sudden, now you’re facing down a lawsuit for not cleaning up. How can this be happening? Well, the fact of the matter is it isn’t. This is, as was said, a myth. The bottom line is that there has never been a case where someone has successfully been sued for injuries incurred by a person trespassing on private property. The current consensus is that, in most cases, the property owner is not responsible for the wellbeing of someone trespassing on their property. An exception may be made for a property that is knowingly in unsafe conditions or that is known to be frequently trespassed; in other words, situations where one has the knowledge that people are frequently moving through their property and have not made attempts to stop it or properly warn of unsafe conditions.
Slipping and Falling Without a Wet Floor Sign
While not required by law, the vast majority of businesses employ the classic wet floor sign to tell customers that…well, the floor in an area is wet. This is a precaution they take to ensure they can’t be found liable for a person’s injury as a result of slipping and falling as the prior warning of the unsafe conditions assumes that the injured party took on the risk of traversing the unsafe terrain. Without the sign, a person could reasonably make the case that they were not properly warned of danger while lawfully inside the other party’s property, a scenario that would make the property owner liable for their injuries. This is especially damning if the case can be made that the floor had been wet for a significant amount of time without proper signage to indicate its wetness, too.
Slipping and Falling on the Sidewalk
Slipping and falling due to wet floors inside a business usually means the business owner is responsible for your injuries, but what about the sidewalk outside the business. In short, it depends. In a city setting where the sidewalk is public property, a business owner who owns or rents the space next to a stretch of sidewalk would likely not be liable for injuries pedestrians sustain by slipping and falling outside their store. However, someone who owns a business on their own private property may take on liability for a similar scenario as the pedestrian would have slipped on private property. In this situation, signage similar to a wet floor sign warning those outside is typically a good idea to limit liability.
The law is a tricky thing with few clear cut answers. Slip and fall injuries are no different in this regard with a multitude of scenarios that may or may not make one party responsible for the injuries another sustains. The three examples outlined here are a good illustration of this and a warning to be aware of the liabilities inherent in everyday life. For more legal information and representation in personal injury cases, contact the Law Office of Freeman & Freeman today.