A common misconception people have after they are injured from slipping and falling on someone’s premises (typically a commercial business) is that they’ll succeed in their personal injury claim because whatever it was that caused them to slip and fall should not have been there, and thus, the property owner is completely liable for all of their medical bills, lost income, future medical care and pain and suffering (see How Prop 51 Impacts Your Personal Injury Claim for additional information on economic and non-economic damages). While this is a somewhat reasonable mindset, it’s in no way reflective of what needs to be proven in a typical slip and fall case. Aside from the general rules of negligence that govern slip and fall claims (see Premises Liability), specific factual considerations must always be taken into account, because in the end, the facts are what make or break a slip and fall claim. A simple gallon of spilled milk in an aisle at the local grocery store which causes someone to slip and fall is a good starting point, but by no means tells the entire story. Other factual inquiries need to be made in order to fully understand the liability, if any, of that grocery store. Typical questions that arise in such a scenario include whether there was a video that captured the accident, since, as the saying goes, cameras never lie (see Spoliation of Evidence), or determining how long the milk was on the floor (a gallon of milk that spilled mere seconds prior to the slip and fall will not create liability [in most cases] on the property owner because there was not enough time for the store to become aware of the dangerous condition, either actually or constructively). Another question will relate to the inspection and maintenance policy of the grocery store. If the milk had been on the floor for 30 minutes and the grocery store’s inspection policy is to monitor aisles every 15 minutes, it can be argued that had the store followed their own policies, the dangerous conditions would have been discovered and the accident would have been avoided. Another inquiry into routine inspection and maintenance is that if an unreasonable time elapses and no inspection occurs, it can again be argued that the failure to inspect within a reasonable amount of time from the last inspection caused the dangerous condition to be overloooked, and as such, the property owner is liable for the victim’s injuries. This is an argument which prevents the property owner from relying on an unreasonable inspection schedule that, for example, provides for inspections every 6 hours. Such an unreasonable amount of time in between inspections, even if followed by the employees, will be used to show that had inspections occurred more frequently, the slip and fall could have been avoided. These considerations are only a few of the myriad additional inquiries which must always be, and are, made by our slip and fall claim attorney in any slip and fall claim.
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