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Important elements in a slip-and-fall case

No one is immune from taking a tumble now and then. Most often, you get back up with little more damage than a scrape or bruise. Occasionally, you may crack your elbow or twist your ankle. The incident may even become something you laugh about as time goes by.

However, slip-and-fall accidents also have the potential for causing critical injuries. A hard fall onto your back, head or stomach can result in life-changing or life-threatening injuries, such as brain trauma, spinal cord damage or internal bleeding. Even if the fall occurred in a public place or on someone else's property, you may be tempted to shrug it off as your own clumsiness or just bad luck. However, under certain conditions, the owner or manager of the property may carry some liability.

Proving negligence

Pursuing a personal injury claim against a property owner after you suffer injuries in a fall may not be easy. It requires you to demonstrate the liability of the owner by proving any of the following factors:

  • The owner of the property or a representative (for example, a property manager or store manager) knew about the hazard but took no steps to repair or remove it.
  • The owner or manager of the property was directly responsible for the hazardous condition.
  • The owner or manager of the property did not know about the hazard but should have known in the course of his or her duties.

It may be difficult to prove that someone should have been aware of the dangerous condition and that the owner's actions were unreasonable in attending to the problem that resulted in your fall and injuries. For example, a property owner who knew for months that a situation was becoming hazardous but did nothing to mitigate it may have acted unreasonably. On the other hand, if the issue had occurred only hours before you arrived, the owner may not hold as much liability for your injuries.

How much responsibility is yours?

Among the many contingencies and factors a California civil court will examine will also include your personal responsibility. You may have to prove that you had a legitimate reason for being on the property and that you exercised every care and precaution. For example, if you fell while running around a swimming pool or in an area that was clearly marked by signs and barricades, the court may decide that you carry a portion of the fault for your injuries.

Seeking advice and assistance from an attorney can help you determine if you have cause for pursuing a case against a negligent property owner.

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