California Slip and Fall Facts That Could Make or Break Your Case
If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident in California caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Here at Montgomery & Steele we have considerable experience as we’ve been practicing personal injury lawyers out of the Inland Empire & California for over a combined 20 years. Below you can find what we’ve learned over the years dealing with slip and fall cases all over California.
Two of the most important laws that will affect your case are the statute of limitations and comparative negligence—let’s take a look at the basics of both to better prepare you for the legal process ahead.
California Slip and Fall Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a law that places time limits on your lawsuit’s ability to be seen by California’s legal system, and that time limit varies depending on the type of case you’re filing.
Like most states, California’s slip and fall statute of limitations is identical to the statute placed on all personal injury cases that are filed with the civil court system. There’s a two-year deadline for filing your case after your injury, and waiting too long could mean losing out on all of the compensation you could be entitled to.
Personal property is a little bit different. If you damaged a watch, expensive shoes, or other pieces of personal property during your fall, you have a separate three-year window for lawsuits regarding the replacement or repair of that property.
If you’re wondering when to file your slip and fall lawsuit, the answer is right now—the legal process can take a lot longer than you might think, and the sooner you take the first step, the better. Even if you’re confident that your case will be settled without a court visit, don’t take the risk and always leave yourself the option.
In some very specific circumstances, the “clock” on your personal injury deadline may toll (pause), giving you extra time to file a lawsuit. Your attorney can give you more details on the process and help you figure out just how much time you have for your specific injury.
It might seem unfair, but if you file a slip and fall case with a property owner after your deadline, your case has a very high chance (almost 100%) of being thrown out by the court.
Comparative Negligence in California Slip and Fall Cases
Everyone who files a claim or lawsuit for a slip and fall in California should be prepared for the property owner to argue that you share some (or all) of the blame for your injury.
This is where choosing the right attorney can pay dividends, because failing to counter this argument will mean seeing a significant portion of your damages taken away. Some of the most common arguments for shared fault are:
You were either trespassing or using a part of the property that doesn’t allow or expect visitors
You were distracted (using your phone, for example) and weren’t watching your step
You were wearing unsafe or inappropriate footwear
Reasonable measures were taken to protect guests and visitors, such as an area being cordoned off with signs or cones
The dangerous condition should have been obvious to you
Regardless of the particular argument, California’s “pure comparative negligence rule” will decide how much compensation you’re entitled to from the property’s owner. Under this law, any damages you’re awarded will be reduced according to the percentage you’re at fault for the fall.
If your case is worth $100,000 in damages (including medical bills, lost wages, etc.) but you’re found 40% at fault for the fall, then the owner is only responsible for $60,000 of those damages.
Comparable negligence isn’t just for cases that make it to court, either—it also plays a role in settlements for slip and fall cases. During settlement negotiations, the other side’s attorney and insurance company will be looking at your fall through the same lens as if it would go to court, after all.
Choosing the Right California Slip and Fall Attorney
Maximizing your compensation from a slip and fall injury in California means getting your case filed on time and proving that the property owner—not you—is the one responsible for your injuries. That’s why choosing a skilled personal injury attorney is so important.
If you’ve been involved in a slip and fall injury in California, the time to act is now. Give us a call or contact us immediately using the form below, and we’ll help you discover just how strong your case really is.