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How does comparative negligence affect a slip and fall case?

A slip and fall injury can leave you financially vulnerable. California recognizes the right of injury victims to recover compensation from individuals whose negligence caused the injury. However, a finding of comparative negligence can reduce the amount available.

Whether a defendant was negligent or the plaintiff was comparatively negligent depends on the specific underlying facts. There are many factors to consider, so it helps to speak with an experienced Los Angeles slip and fall lawyer at Hobbs Law Group– who can walk you through your case.

Who is liable for a slip and fall?

Before you can prevail on a slip and fall claim, you need to prove that the defendant– usually the property owner or occupier– was negligent. This means showing that:

  • The defendant had a duty to keep the premises safe.
  • The defendant failed to keep the premises safe by repairing defects or warning about their danger.
  • The defendant’s acts caused your injuries, and
  • Your injuries caused the economic loss.

Some of the more common ways that property owners may be liable include:

  • Creating a hazard, like leaving spilled water on the floor
  • Failing to repair a hazard– not making repairs to damaged floors, not de-icing the sidewalk, not fixing a light in a parking lot, etc.
  • Not posting warning signs when they know or reasonably should know about a danger

Your slip and fall accident lawyer will examine the evidence to determine whether the property owner’s negligence or the negligence of someone else caused your fall. This is a critical step before filing an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.

Understanding comparative negligence in California

California follows the rule of “comparative fault” or “comparative negligence,” which allows a plaintiff to recover from an at-fault party even if they bore some of the fault. Most states now follow a comparative negligence rule, but some follow an older model known as “contributory negligence.” In this jurisdiction, an injured party who bears any fault for the accident– even 1% of the blame– is barred from recovering compensation.

While California law allows compensation even if you were partly to blame, insurance adjusters and defense lawyers may try to convince you that your claim is worthless. Having an experienced attorney in your corner can help you defeat these tactics to receive the maximum compensation to which you are entitled.

How comparative negligence affects a slip and fall

When a personal injury lawsuit goes to trial, the jury will decide what percentage of the blame belongs to each party. It will also determine the total value of the injury claim. The value of the claim is then reduced by the percentages of the plaintiff’s fault. For example, if the plaintiff has $50,000 in damages and bore 10% of the responsibility for the fall while the defendant bore 90%, they may recover $45,000 from the defendant.

Most cases, however, settle before trial. The process for determining fault in a settlement is less formal than in a trial. The plaintiff and insurance company or defendant will negotiate a settlement value, and the parties will likely argue over how much the plaintiff’s negligence, if any, contributed to the injury. However, when they reach an agreement, the parties proceed with more certainty than if they leave the decisions up to the jury.

Examples of comparative negligence in a slip and fall

Individuals have a general duty to be careful so that they are not injured. If their carelessness contributes to their slip and fall accident, this is usually considered comparative negligence. Some examples include:

  • Looking at a cell phone while walking instead of watching your step
  • Ignoring a wet floor warning sign
  • Running across a slick area
  • Not using a handrail or other available safety device

If there is a chance you may have been partly to blame for your fall, your slip and fall attorney can help you understand whether it will affect your case and, if so, how much it may reduce your compensation.

Contact us for a free consultation

If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall in Southern California, speak with a Hobbs Law Group attorney. You have a lot to juggle after an accident, especially if your injury keeps you from working at a time when you need to pay medical bills. We have helped recover over $10 million on behalf of others in your situation.

Call today to schedule a free consultation. There is no obligation, and we never charge a legal fee unless we secure compensation on your behalf.

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