April 25, 2024

California Slip and Fall Laws

A slip and fall injury report placed neatly on a table, detailing the incident and its aftermath.

California slip and fall laws govern who is responsible when a fall happens when a fall victim must file their case and various other aspects of their case. These laws can be complex and dense, and Ontario, CA slip and fall accident lawyer can help you navigate them.

Understanding and abiding by the law is the first step in successfully completing your case. Having an attorney lead the process will ensure no mistake or delay compromises your financial recovery.

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The Statute of Limitations Is a Key Law for Slip and Fall Cases

One of California’s most critical laws related to slip and falls is the statute of limitations. CCP § 335.1 generally requires you to file a personal injury lawsuit within two years of the fall. If you wait to hire your lawyer, you risk:

  • Losing track of time following the fall (recovery and other demands may allow this to happen)
  • Allowing the statute of limitations to expire before you file your case
  • Missing insurance claim-specific deadlines
  • Becoming ineligible to seek the compensation you deserve
  • Suffering a massive financial blow because you failed to file your case on time

The clock on your case’s filing deadline can be delayed or paused in certain circumstances, so contact a California slip and fall accident lawyer even if it has been two years (or nearly two years) since you fell.

The Statute of Limitations Is Shorter When Suing the Government

 The words "Statute of Limitations," symbolizing the intersection of law and justice.

Some slip and fall accidents happen on property owned by public institutions. In such cases, the victim may need to sue a municipality. California law sets the statute of limitations for suing municipalities as shorter than suing other parties.

GOV § 911.2 generally allows you six months to sue a municipality for a slip and fall accident. Again, there can be exceptions to this law, so speak with a lawyer even if you fear the statute of limitations may have expired.

Negligence is not a concept specific to California law. However, the common legal thread runs through all slip and fall cases (and most other civil cases) in the Golden State.

Attorneys meet the legal standard for proving negligence by proving:

  • The liable party owed the plaintiff a duty of care: When someone has a duty of care, they must act as any other reasonable person would. For property owners, this means actively working to prevent slipping hazards on their property.
  • The liable party (or parties) breached their duty of care in some way: If a property owner or another liable party did not act in a reasonable manner (perhaps by allowing or ignoring slipping hazards), they breached their duty of care.
  • The breach of duty of care caused harm to the plaintiff: If you fell and suffered injury because of a property owner’s negligence, it’s clear the breach of duty of care caused you harm. 
  • The plaintiff suffered damages as a consequence of the negligence: Your attorney will illustrate the specific types of harm resulting from fall-related injuries. This will likely include, but won’t be limited to, medical expenses and pain and suffering.

Proving negligence is a requirement in most civil cases in California. Slip and fall lawyers are familiar with the legal definition of negligence, how to prove negligence, and how to hold those responsible for negligence accountable.

Examples of Negligence in California Slip and Fall Cases

Your California slip and fall accident lawyer will identify the specific reason for your slip and fall (and who is responsible for causing you harm). Some common failures by property owners that can lead to slip and fall accidents include:

  • Understaffing a premises in a way that makes it impossible to monitor slipping hazards (and other hazards) properly
  • Failing to install adequate lighting in dim areas of a property
  • Failing to promptly clean up spills, condensation, and other liquid slipping hazards
  • Installing dangerously slick flooring (such as tile that becomes dangerous when moisture is present)
  • Failing to cordon off slipping hazards that cannot be immediately removed
  • Not training staff about how to look for and address slipping hazards

Uneven stairs, torn carpets, and countless other hazards can result in slip and fall accidents. In many cases, a property owner failed to take some measures that could have reduced the risk of the victim falling and being injured.

Premises Liability Law Will Apply to Your California Slip and Fall Case

A plate bearing the words "Premises Liability" sits alongside a gavel, evoking the concept of legal responsibility within a property setting.

California Civil Code 1714 establishes the legal fact that:

  • Property owners in the state must not engage in any willful act that causes harm to another person.
  • Property owners are legally responsible when their failure to take “ordinary care” in managing the property leads others to suffer harm.

This and other California laws cover a wide range of cases, including those that involve slip and fall accidents. Studying, understanding, and being able to reference these laws may be critical to your case’s success. Therefore, an attorney’s legal knowledge and training may be vital to your case.

Don’t Worry About the Law. Instead, Let an Attorney Lead Your Case

Diving into California’s civil code isn’t a realistic option for many slip and fall accident victims. You may be totally occupied by:

  • Personal responsibilities
  • Resting as part of the recovery process
  • Seeing your doctor
  • Receiving treatment for psychological and emotional distress

Handling an insurance claim or lawsuit can be unrealistic from a time perspective. You may also find your case’s challenges very distressing, which may even worsen your health.

California slip and fall accident lawyers know the law. They have resolved many cases like yours and will waste no time pursuing the compensation you deserve. Accept a lawyer’s assistance during this challenging time in your life.

How a California Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer Will Lead Your Case

Your chosen legal team will be responsible for every detail of your insurance claim or lawsuit, including:


No two slip and fall victims have the exact same needs from their attorneys. Each fall is different, each victim has different damages, and strategies can vary significantly from one person to the next.

Your attorney will:

  • Identify the cause of your fall
  • Determine who is responsible for causing the fall
  • Determine if the liable party has insurance (and how much insurance coverage they have)
  • Determine if a lawsuit is a viable legal option
  • Develop a personalized case strategy and explain it to you

Your case strategy may evolve. For instance, if liable insurers don’t offer a fair settlement, your attorney may advise you to file a lawsuit against a negligent property owner.

Day-to-Day Responsibilities 

Lawsuits and insurance claims require frequent attention. Your legal team will:

  • Lead communications with insurance companies
  • Apply pressure on insurers to resolve your claim(s) as soon as possible
  • Draft all case-related paperwork
  • Provide you regular case updates
  • Handle every other administrative and day-to-day responsibility for you

You can focus on recovery, knowing your attorney is handling the smallest of details for you.

Securing Evidence of Negligence

A negligent slip and fall incident occurs as feet stumble over a wire cord, highlighting the hazards of neglecting safety measures.

Your lawyer and their investigators will secure any evidence that suggests a property owner’s negligence, which may include:

  • Video of your slip and fall accident
  • Eyewitness accounts of the fall
  • Witness accounts of the conditions that led to your fall
  • Expert testimony about the cause of your fall and who is responsible for that cause
  • Photographs of the fall hazard that led to you being injured

The liable party may try to conceal or dispose of evidence in their possession. Your attorney may file a letter of spoliation demanding that the liable party preserve and provide you with such evidence.

Detailing Your Damages

Your fall-related damages will be one of the primary focuses of your claim or lawsuit. Expect your lawyer to secure detailed evidence of those damages, which may include:

  • X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and any other medical images of your injuries
  • Photographs of visible injuries
  • Doctors’ diagnoses of your fall-related injuries (and any other relevant medical records)
  • Your past income statements (to prove fall-related lost income)
  • A mental health professional’s testimony about your pain and suffering

Attorneys recognize what documentation will be useful in a slip and fall accident case. Allow a lawyer to portray a detailed account of your fall-related damages.

Calculating the Cost of Your Case

Slip and fall lawyers calculate case values based on the following:

  • Damages the client has already experienced (such as pain and suffering and medical bills)
  • Damages the client will suffer in the future
  • Both economic and non-economic damages

Most non-lawyers do not know how to calculate the value of non-economic damages, with pain and suffering being the most common example. Lawyers can use one of multiple methods for calculating pain and suffering, and they will do so for you.

Negotiating a Settlement

Most slip and fall accident cases lead to a settlement. Because a trial is a time-consuming and uncertain way to resolve a case (for all parties), slip and fall attorneys often reach financial agreements with insurers and other liable parties.

That said, you should hire a lawyer with a proven record of taking cases to court. If going to trial is the right decision for you, you must know your lawyer is willing to go to court.

Filing a Lawsuit and Going to Trial, If Necessary

If your case leads to a lawsuit or trial, your attorney will:

  • Draft and file your suit before any statutes of limitations expire
  • Handle the pre-trial process
  • Recruit, present, and question witnesses
  • Cross-examine the defense’s witnesses
  • Handle every other step in the trial process

If you are diligent in choosing your lawyer, your attorney will take every step to secure your financial recovery. That may include going to court.

Recoverable Damages for Slip and Fall Victims

Winter hazards abound as a man slips and falls, illustrating the dangers of accidents during the colder months.

Falls are notoriously dangerous events, whether in the workplace, on a public sidewalk, in a department store, in a nursing home, or elsewhere. While factors like the fall victim’s age and health can be relevant to resulting injuries, any fall victim’s recoverable damages may include:

Medical Expenses

Those who fall often need:

  • Ambulance transport from the accident scene
  • Emergency medical care
  • Surgery
  • Medications
  • Hospitalization
  • Multiple doctors appointments
  • Medical imaging
  • Other medical services and items

An attorney will ensure you receive the care you need, work with your doctor, and secure records detailing your healthcare needs.

Pain and Suffering

Falling and suffering injuries can cause several types of pain and suffering, including:

  • Physical pain (both acute and chronic pain)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (which can affect those who suffer serious falls
  • Emotional anguish
  • Psychological distress
  • Depression
  • Anxiety 
  • Lost quality of life

Falls can cause injuries that interfere with daily routines, sleep, and independence. Attorneys will consider the full scope of harm when evaluating your case’s value.

Professional Damages

If your injuries affect your work, you may lose income, lose earning power, be unable to earn bonuses and overtime pay, become ineligible for promotions, and suffer other professional harm. Your attorney will calculate these damages and pursue fair compensation for them.

The Cost of Being Disabled

When fall victims become disabled, their challenges may become even more burdensome. Disabled people often need:

  • Permanent replacement of lost income
  • Medical equipment
  • In-home and outpatient caregiver services
  • Rehabilitation 

Disabled individuals also face substantial pain and suffering, which may require long-term treatment. Trust an experienced California slip and fall accident lawyer to evaluate all of your damages and pursue fair compensation for them.

What Should I Do During My Slip and Fall Accident Case?

If you hire an attorney, you only need to focus on your health. Your lawyer will provide any case-related instruction you need, while your doctors should provide a clear treatment plan to follow. You only follow the guidance of legal and medical professionals, never having to wonder about the best course of action or whether you are making an error in the process.

Hire Your California Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible

You should never wait any longer to hire a California personal injury attorney. They must obtain all available evidence (which may not be available much longer) and file a case before the statute of limitations expires. Seek your free case evaluation today.

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