How to File a Slip and Fall Claim in California

June 1, 2022 | Article by Chain | Cohn | Clark staff | Tips & Information

How to File a Slip and Fall Claim in California

A slip and fall accident is one of the simplest personal injuries to understand. They are quite common because they arise whenever a dangerous condition causes someone to trip or be injured on someone else’s property. 

Examples of “dangerous conditions” include, but are not limited to, the following factors:

  • Slippery surfaces from liquid, grease, ice, etc.
  • Lack of railings or balance support
  • Lack of fencing on balconies
  • Poor lighting
  • Large cracks or potholes
  • Objects or debris on walkways
  • Uneven floors or pavement

Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere, but tend to result in more severe injuries when working in hazardous environments, such as oilfields or industrial worksites

Steps to Filing a Slip and Fall Claim

The exact process you want to follow when filling a slip and fall claim may differ depending on the specific situation. However, there are some general guidelines that should always be considered.

Gather Information on Your Accident

Assuming you are able to collect information about your accident, you should do so right away. The more accurately you can record the actual circumstances of an accident, the better your chances will be of proving the other party’s negligence. 

Take pictures, get witness contact information, and look to answer the following questions:

  • What conditions seemed to have caused the slip and fall?
  • What clothes or shoes were you wearing?
  • What time of day did the fall occur?
  • Where was the fall? Was it inside or outside the facility?
  • What floor or ground did the fall occur on?
  • Was there an obstruction of some sort that led to the fall? 
  • Was any staff involved in your accident?
  • Were there any witnesses or cameras that might have seen what happened?

These questions not only help you fill out the proper reports after an injury, they also help you inform your slip and fall lawyer about the situation. 

Inform the Property Owner and Authorities of Your Accident

Another important step in any slip and fall accident is to report your fall as soon as possible to any necessary parties. If you don’t report your accident as soon as it happens, you may experience more difficulties when pursuing compensation. Especially if there were no witnesses, you will want to inform both the authorities and the owner of the property on which the fall occurred right away.

On commercial property, you should report your injury to the highest ranking person who is present. On public property, you should report it to the city or town that day if no emergency responders were required.

Seek Medical Attention Immediately

If you sustain a serious and painful injury, this should be a no-brainer. However, even if you think your injury does not require immediate attention, you should receive medical care. 

If you have any intention of seeking to have your expenses covered, you do not want to wait to go to a hospital or doctor. Insurance companies will often assume—and try to prove—that you weren’t actually that badly hurt if you do not seek assistance for your injuries right away.

File a Claim for Legal Compensation

Typically, slip and fall claims do not occur at a personal level. You probably won’t sue your nephew if you trip over his toy at the family Christmas party. Slip and fall accident claims are usually made against corporations, retailers, and small businesses that have dealt with fraudulent claims in the past. 

When attempting to file for legal compensation, you should be certain that you can prove your claim is legitimate. An attorney will not take your case if they believe it’s fake. Slip and fall lawyers will ask you many questions and perform their own assessment of the accident to learn if you were negligent in any way. 

Hire a Bakersfield Slip and Fall Attorney

That being said, even if you believe you have an airtight case, you should still hire a lawyer. Many business owners and corporations have already been the victim of fraudulent claims and will do whatever they can to avoid compensating you for a slip and fall accident. Hiring a lawyer can ensure that you don’t get taken advantage of by more knowledgeable teams. 

How Do You Prove Negligence in a Slip and Fall Claim?

Proving negligence means more than just proving that you were injured. To win a slip and fall accident lawsuit, you must provide evidence that you were hurt because the property owner failed to keep you safe. A slip and fall lawyer will help you gather the necessary information to prove negligence in a slip and fall lawsuit.

Slip and Fall Case Examples

Slip and fall cases come in all different shapes and sizes, so recognizing whether or not you have grounds for a case can be difficult. As mentioned above, the ability to prove negligence is an important part of a claim. 

Here’s an example of some cases in which you could likely receive compensation:

  • You are wearing sneakers and trip over a concrete crack the business owner did not repair;
  • You are standing on a crowded balcony that is not properly railed and are bumped over the edge, and of course;
  • You slip on a wet floor that is not marked by a wet floor sign.

On the contrary, here are some cases that may seem like slip and fall accidents, but do not have grounds for compensation.

  • You slip on concrete while wearing high stilettos;
  • You are intoxicated on a balcony and stumble over a railing;
  • You slip on a wet floor that is marked, but you did not see the clearly posted wet floor sign.

If you are not sure whether you have a case or not, reach out to a Chain | Cohn | Clark slip and fall lawyer for advice. 

Are Slip and Fall Cases Hard to Win?

Slip and fall cases can be especially difficult to prove if the accident occurs in a remote area without any witnesses or documentation. It is necessary to prove that you are not to blame if you wish to recover full compensation for your injury. This can be tough when all you have is your story and nothing to back it up. 

Contact an experienced attorney for an investigation to try and prove your case even if nobody saw what happened.

How Long Do You Have to File a Slip and Fall Claim in California?

The California statute of limitations for slip and fall lawsuits is currently two years from the accident date. If you wait more than two years after the accident date to file a claim, it will be denied. 

If the injury is not immediately discovered after the accident, the plaintiff will have a single year from the time the injury was found to file a claim. 

Slip and Fall Claims Against the Government

There are different rules surrounding accidents that occur in a government building. For a slip and fall claim against the government, your claim must go through an administrative hearing. 

In California, you must file your claim to the Office of Administrative Law within six months of the accident. If they reject or deny the claim, the plaintiff is able to file a claim with their local civil court. 

Slip and Fall Lawsuits Filed by Minors 

The statute of limitations is different for children under the age of 18. If a minor is injured, they will have two years from the time that they turn 18 to file the claim. If their parent or guardian has already filed a claim on their behalf, they will not be able to file when they turn 18. 

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations

There are also a few cases in which the statute of limitations is more flexible. Under California’s Code of Civil Procedure, the statute of limitations can be tolled—or temporarily stopped from expiring. 

In a California slip and fall accident, the statute of limitations can be tolled if:

  • The victim is mentally incapacitated and unable to file a claim by the deadline
  • The victim is physically incapacitated and unable to file a claim by the deadline
  • The injuries of an accident do not arise until the statute of limitations has expired

If the victim of a slip and fall accident dies, surviving loved ones may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. 

What If My Slip and Fall Claim Is Denied?

Slip and fall claims can get denied because they lack evidence, they are improperly filed, an unreasonable settlement is requested, etc. If your claim is denied, you should not give up. Rather, you should continue negotiations with the adjuster until you are properly compensated. Provide additional evidence until your insurance adjuster approves your claim. 

If your claim is still denied after further negotiation, you may want to take legal action against the insurance company. Especially if you sustained costly injuries and need compensation from the liable party. 

Reach out to Chain | Cohn | Clark for help from an experienced Bakersfield slip and fall accident attorney.

Hire a Bakersfield Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer at Chain | Cohn | Clark

Our law firm has been representing victims of slip and fall accidents for decades in Kern County. If you are injured in a slip and fall accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, hire a Bakersfield personal injury lawyer from Chain | Cohn | Clark for legal assistance.