SLIP / TRIP AND FALL - DANGEROUS AND UNSAFE CONDITIONS
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WHO HESITATES IS LOST."
above proverb has real application in premises
Next to obtaining proper medical care for your injuries, the
single thing you can do in a premises liability case is, if
possible, to quickly
document (preserve evidence of) the dangerous condition.
Typically, the best
way to preserve evidence is
the scene with plenty of photographs from all
different angles and varying distances (closeups of objects,
and distance shots).
if possible, identify witnesses, especially
neutral witnesses, who can testify as to the dangerous or
For example, if you
slip and fall on water
a grocery store, obtain the first and last name, address and telephone
number of nearby shoppers who
can testify as eye witnesses of their observations of the dangerous
condition or the fall).
may contact a friend,
family member, or a coworker to come to the scene and observe and/or
the dangerous or unsafe condition.
it is wise take and record measurements of objects (and
measuring devise on or next to the object), as, for example, if you
tripped and fell due to a sudden rise in
elevation on a sidewalk or walkway. Then photograph the
such as a ruler that demonstrates in inches the sudden rise in
A lawyer who is contacted can step in and facilitate the
may be wondering, "Why
all the hurry?" The
reason is, that the law in California does not permit
you to introduce into evidence that the possessor of
the dangerous condition in order to prove negligence. (The reason or
rationale for this exclusionary
evidence rule is to encourage possessors of land to make their property
safe without fear that such repairs or removal so will be
used in a
court of law to prove their negligence). Knowing this rule
exclusion of evidence, a
will often do their utmost to promptly fix or repair the dangerous
before you have the opportunity to document the unsafe condition.
you are urged act immediately to record and document the defective
You, or, even better, a friend, a family member, an
attorney, or a private investigator should
immediately make observations, photograph the scene and take
Note: There are a
quite a number of exceptions
and potential work-arounds to the above-described exclusionary
For example, evidence of subsequent repairs may be admissible to prove
certain matters other than negligence. But, documenting the
dangerous condition before the danger is removed may, in many cases,
still be vital to establishing a strong or viable case of negligence.
your friend, family member, or co-worker contact an
attorney for advice on what to do so that you can focus on
medical care and treatment for your
injuries. (You do not want to give the appearance that
more about the amount of recovery in your case than
your injuries. Stated another way, when an injured victim
contacts their attorney before their doctor, some may question the
person's priorities and motivations).
even if you did not document or photograph the hazardous
away, and even
if the dangerous condition has been repaired, replaced or removed, you
contact a lawyer. There may well be other ways to prove your
Possessor of land has a duty to use
reasonable care to maintain his or her property in
safe condition or,
alternatively, adequately warn of the danger.
means land, the building on the land, or other structures on
means the person who owned, possessed or
controlled the Premises. Isaacs
v. Huntington Memorial
38 Cal.3d 112, 134; Alcaraz
v. Vece (1997)
14 Cal.4th 1149, 1162.
Possessor is liable by negligently using and/or maintaining the
causes harm to a person or property (See CACI 1000).
means that the
Possessor did not exercise “ordinary care or skill in
the management of his
or her property or person…[CA
Code § 1714(a)] thereby exposing persons to an
unreasonable risk of harm. (Brooks
v. Eugene Burger Management Corp. (1989) 215
1619; (1997) 14 Cal.4th 1149, 1156. Stated
another way, the
Possessor must use reasonable care to keep the Premises in reasonably
condition or adequately warn of the danger. Ann
M. v. Pacific
Plaza Shopping Center (1993) 6
Cal.4th 666, 674.
Possessor has a duty to use reasonable
care to discover any unsafe conditions and to repair, replace, or give
warning of the dangerous condition.
proper test to be applied
to the liability of the possessor of land ... is whether in the
his property he has acted as a reasonable man in view of the
injury to others ....” (Rowland v. Christian
(1968) 69 Cal.2d 108, 119.
See also issue of lack
of similar accidents before the subject incident occurred.
conditions come in a myriad of forms: I will identify a few examples:
old banana on floor for a long time (Seriously, this kind of thing does
collapsing balcony; a sudden elevation rise on a sidewalk;
that is not built to code; a tripping hazard; an attractive nuisance
(often involving minors and children); slippery substances on the floor
at a store; a leaky refrigeration system at a grocery store; bottles or
boxes falling off of a shelf and striking a passing shopper; a falling
tree; a falling object; inadequate
lighting; lack of warning
to take reasonable safety precautions; lack of reasonably
necessary security; health gym liability;
amusement park ride that malfunctions, etc. See also Fire,
Explosion, and Electrocution.
you've been the victim of a premises liability incident, contact
Christian lawyer, Matthew B. Tozer
for a free consultation.
information provided in this article is
informational, only. The subject matter and applicable law is evolving
and/or constant state of change. This advice is based on
California law. No legal advice is given and no
attorney/client or other relationship is established or intended.
information provided is from general sources, and I cannot
warrant that the information contained in this website is accurate,
appropriate for the usage of any reader. It is recommend that readers
of this information consult
with their own counsel prior to relying on any information on this
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