Imagine this situation: You are on someone else’s property and you walk down a staircase. You are by yourself as no one is around. Suddenly, you trip and fall down the stairs and realize you are badly injured. Who is to blame for this slip and fall accident?
This can be a difficult question and is often the most frequently asked by our slip and fall clients. In some cases, liability is fairly certain but in other cases it is not. The following factors should be taken into consideration when assessing blame in a trip and fall accident.
Who or what caused the fall?
Property owners are responsible for accidents occurring on their staircases similar to how they would be liable to visitors on their property who are injured in a slip and fall accident. In both types of slip-and-fall and staircase accidents, responsibility for injuries in the following circumstances:
- The property owner or manager caused a spill, or other slippery or dangerous surface;
- The owner, manager or even an employee of the property knew about dangerous flooring conditions but did nothing to fix the known dangers.
- The property owner should have known about the dangerous condition on the floor because enough time has elapsed that they should have discovered it and remedied the problem.
Are You At Fault for the Accident?
If you were to file a lawsuit for your trip and fall or staircase accident, questions will arise by the property owner or their insurance company about your comparative negligence. This means they want to know whether your fall was the result of something you did. Stated another way, how much of the accident and your resulting injuries were caused by your own comparative fault?
For example, were you wearing the appropriate shoes for the activity in which you were engaged at the time of the accident? Did you spill the substance on which you fell? Did the property owner have enough time to discover a spilled substance? Were you in an unauthorized location of the property? These are all questions the property owner or insurance company will be asking and are all relevant to your potential comparative negligence in a San Diego slip and fall or trip and fall accident.
Staircases: Hidden Defects
Staircase accident cases and present additional complications because in many cases, there are defects in the design or construction of the stairs that are not immediately apparent after an accident. Whether some hidden or latent defect contributed to the occurrence of your accident can take an evaluation by an expert and a good San Diego personal injury lawyer can provide this kind of investigation on your behalf.
The following is contain some common staircase defects that can cause injuries:
- Worn down carpet or uneven wood. A worn-down carpet can be extra slippery if you fall on stairs like these, the property owner could reasonably be held liable.
- Outdoor stairs should not constructed of surfaces that extra slippery when wet, and owners are not allowed excess water or ice to build up on staircases for which they’re responsible.
- Proper handrails should be installed on certain types of staircases. If there were inadequate handrails on the staircase, the property owner is potentially liable for your accident.
- California has building codes with specific requirements for stairs. If these codes are not adhered to and you are injured as a result, the property owner may be held liable.
If you have been injured in a San Diego trip and fall accident or other slip and fall accident, contact an experienced premises liability and personal injury lawyer to discuss your options. A good San Diego personal injury lawyer could perform an investigation into the circumstances that led to your fall and your injuries, and to getting you the compensation you deserve. Contact an experienced lawyer at Martinez & Schill LLP today for a free consultation. 619-512-5995.