A slip and fall accident occurs where an owner of property is held liable, or at fault, for causing an injury to another person on the property due to some hazard on the property. Slip and fall cases do contain the same elements of any other accident caused by the negligence of another; namely you have five things to analyze:
1. an injured victim: credibility of the victim is crucial in these types of injuries;
2. a hazard that caused an injury: such as water on the floor, or some subtle defect was in a stairway or floor. This hazard must have been an “unreasonable risk of harm.” This hazard is usually a condition or physical feature of the prem- ises (location of where the fall happened), and it must either be identified, quantified, or measured. In most California slip and fall cases, some physical feature or condition is a major contributing factor in the injure party’s fall. The hazard may be as simple as water on the floor of a supermarket or as complex as a subtle variation in the riser height of a step in a stairway. In each case, something caused the injured person to fall down. Of the slip and fall cases I have interviewed and investigated, I have found that usually some physical feature of the premises (the flooring or environment) was a substantial contributing factor in over 60% of the slip or trip and fall cases. Please keep in mind that this percentage does not rule out more than other factor (proximate cause) of the slip and fall accident.
There should be careful consideration of the bio-mechanics of the injured party’s fall; usually, with this careful consider- ation, the identity of the hazard will reveal itself. On some occasions, there is no apparent explanation for the manner or bio-mechanics of how the fall occurred. In these types of cases, it is necessary to look at the causative factors not associated with the premises. Among some of these factors to look out for includes the state or repair and style of the injured party’s shoes. In my slip and fall injury practice, I always ask my client to save their shoes (preserve them) for evidence until the claim has resolved. Another fact to look at is the injured party’s age, and mental state at the time of the slip and fall accident. Different standards can apply to children falls and falls of the elderly. Also, consider the injured party’s gait and manner of walking, including any physical disabilities or impairments suffered by the injured party, and even outside intervening conditions or events that could have caused the injured party to generate unusual moving forces or walking. You have to think outside the box on slip and fall cases, and this means you need to consult with experienced legal counsel so you can make an informed decision on your specific injury case.
3. notice of the hazard: this simply means the at-fault party (person or entity) had notice of the hazard that contributed or caused the slip and fall and failed to remedy the hazard in time before the fall injury occurred;
4. breach of a duty that is owed to the injured victim: the law is clear in all 50 States that the at-fault person or party/entity did something to breach their duty to the slip and fall accident victim to contribute to the fall happening. More on this later in this book;