Winter Weather Falls
When the fall weather gives way to winter, with the rain and snow, the chances of having a fall are increased. Walking surfaces that when dry are safe, can present a dangerously unsafe condition. Business operators are well aware of this, and they must take reasonable steps to maintain their property and keep their patrons safe.
What Steps Must Be Taken to Make Property Safe
When the weather outside is wet, from rain or snow, business owners must take reasonable steps to ensure their floors remain safe for pedestrians. Typically, this means placing rubberized, carpeted mats at or near the entrance to the business so that patrons' shoes will be dried by the mat before the patrons step on to a vinyl or tile floor. Also, it is always a good idea to place warnings (placards, signs, etc.) letting patrons know there may be water on the floor. Water increases the slipperiness of tile and vinyl flooring, often to a point where it is considered unsafe. In fact, there are certain building and safety standards regarding the traction (or coefficient of friction) of walking areas that should be met at all times. When they are not, the business owner may be held liable for any resulting injuries and damages. Additionally, when a business owner fails to regularly inspect their property for dangerous conditions (such as a slippery floor) they may be held accountable.
You May Recover Damages Even If a Fall is Partly Your Fault
In California, the courts follow the rule of "pure" comparative negligence. What this means is that you may recover compensation for injuries and other damages even if you are somewhat at fault for an accident. For example, in nearly every slip and all claim, the defense will argue the injured party failed to keep an adequate lookout for dangers on the ground. This is called comparative negligence. Depending on how obvious the danger is, taking into account size, shape and color of the danger, this may serve to discount the recovery value of a claim. Clear water on a shiny tile floor is much less obvious than a spill of chocolate syrup on a white tile floor.
By way of example, if full compensation to a fall victim is $100,000.00, that figure may have to be discounted (and often is) by $10,000.00 (10%) or more for the presumed fault of the injured party. No claim is perfect and every one must be evaluated in light of its unique circumstances. Much more often than not, even taking into account comparative negligence, many fall claims are still quite valuable and worth pursuing.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident, an experienced personal injury attorney can help recover the compensation you deserve. Make sure you protect your rights and hold careless business owners accountable.