Falls, not traffic accidents, are the number one cause of spinal cord injuries in the U.S. If you slip or trip, fall, and you are injured because another party – a business, for example – was careless, you can probably be compensated with help from a Costa Mesa slip and fall attorney.
Slip-and-fall victims can also sustain back, neck, and head injuries, broken arms and/or legs, and severe brain injuries. If you have been injured slipping or tripping and falling at a commercial property in California, keep reading, because a slip-and-fall injury can abruptly change your life.
Each year, scores of shoppers in this state are hurt, often severely, at shopping malls when a store owner, store manager, or the mall’s ownership or management fails to maintain the premises safely or fails to alert shoppers and employees about known and potential hazards at the mall.
What Are Your Rights as an Injured Victim of Negligence?
If you’re injured in a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall incident at a shopping mall or strip mall, and if you and your lawyer can prove that you were injured because a property owner or a mall tenant was negligent, you may recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and more.
However, that compensation is not automatic, even when the law entitles you to it. If you’ll keep reading, you’ll learn how a Costa Mesa premises liability lawyer will handle your premises liability claim and prove that you are entitled to compensation if you are injured at a mall.
The law in California requires all commercial property owners to ensure that their properties are reasonably free of hazards. Elevators and escalators must be in good working order and routinely inspected. Spills must be cleaned up at once. Lighting and security must be adequate.
Who May Have Liability for a Shopping-Related Injury?
At shopping malls, strip malls, and other spots where multiple retailers are located, there may be several businesses or persons who are obligated to maintain reasonably hazard-free premises. These parties may include but are not necessarily limited to:
- property owners
- retail tenants who are leasing space
- property management companies
- companies hired to perform repair and maintenance work
If you are injured at a shopping mall, your California premises liability attorney will review the details of the accident and the available evidence to determine precisely which party or parties can be held liable for your personal injury or injuries.
What’s Your First Priority If You Are Injured While Shopping
If you are injured in a slip-and-fall incident at a shopping mall, seek medical help immediately. Even if you don’t feel hurt, you may have sustained a latent or hard-to-detect injury that could emerge in a few days as a serious medical condition, so have a medical examination at once.
Without an immediate medical examination, it is often difficult to link a particular injury to a particular accident. If you seek damages, the other side could claim that you were injured at some other time and place or that you’re not really seriously injured at all.
You should report the incident to the store manager (if you are injured inside a store) or to mall management or mall security if you are injured in a common area of the mall or outside on a sidewalk or in a parking area.
Many retailers and malls provide a pre-printed accident report form for you to complete. Be sure to make a copy for yourself before submitting it. Be brief, stick to the facts, and say as little as possible in that report. Do not say anything that might be misconstrued as an admission of fault.
What Other Steps Should You Take?
Try to take photos at the site of the slip-and-fall incident, and try to get the names and contact details of any witnesses. Photos and eyewitness statements can be persuasive in premises liability cases, often leading to substantial settlements or jury verdicts.
After you’ve been seen by a medical professional, if you have been injured, your next priority is speaking with a premises liability attorney. Do not procrastinate. Your attorney will need to examine the evidence while it’s fresh and question the witnesses before their memories fade.
When the Insurance Company Contacts You
You should retain an attorney quickly because you will probably be contacted shortly by the store’s or mall’s insurance company. Don’t provide any statement, sign any insurance document, or accept a settlement offer. Refer all of the company’s questions and inquiries to your attorney.
If you are contacted before you can meet with your attorney, simply tell the insurance company that your attorney will answer their questions after you have a legal consultation.
It is important that you do not accept a first settlement offer. Do not be pressured or tempted. Initial offers are “low-ball” offers, and your attorney will negotiate for a considerably more generous settlement.
Moreover, you may not yet know the full extent of your injuries when a first settlement offer is made, and if you accept it, you waive the right to seek additional compensation or to take further legal action.
How Are Most Shopping-Related Injury Claims Resolved?
In California, most injury claims of this nature are settled privately and out-of-court, sometimes in just a few weeks. However, if your claim is disputed and no private settlement is possible, a Costa Mesa premises liability attorney will take your case to trial.
If your case goes to trial, your lawyer will explain to a jury exactly what happened, who was responsible, and why you are entitled to compensation.
How Long Do You Have? How Much Will Justice Cost?
The California statute of limitations for premises liability claims is usually two years from the date of the injury, although there are several limited exceptions. Your attorney will explain if an exception to the two-year limit applies in your own case. Nevertheless, you should not wait two years or even two weeks to contact an attorney.
As mentioned previously, a lawyer needs to examine evidence that is fresh and question witnesses before their memories fade. In southern California, as soon as you have been treated by a medical professional for your slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall injury, schedule a legal consultation with a Cosa Mesa premises liability lawyer to discuss your right to compensation.
Your first consultation with a premises liability lawyer is provided without cost or obligation. You will learn how the law applies to your own case, and if you proceed with legal action, you will pay no attorney’s fee until and unless your attorney recovers compensation on your behalf.