Slippery surfaces are some of the most serious hazards a person can confront. There are many reasons why a floor gets slippery, but property owner negligence is a common one. The sad reality is that many owners do not take the care necessary to keep their property safe for visitors, also known legally as “invitees”. This is even true of business owners, who derive their income from customers feeling safe enough to enter a store. At El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers, we can help victims make a claim for compensation following a slip and fall accident.
What Causes Wet Floors?
There are many reasons a floor can get wet. Sometimes the owner is responsible, whereas in other situations the wetness is caused naturally or by a visitor:
- Freshly mopped floor
- Spilled liquids
- Dropped bottles or jars
- Air conditioner condensation
- Melted ice
- Burst pipe
- Leaky roof
- Installation of a surface, like marble, that becomes too slippery when wet
Some places are more prone to wet floors than others. For example, if you go into a fast food restaurant you will often see water all over the floor near the soda machine. Ice cubes melt and people spill soda constantly, leading to quite a bit of liquid on the floor. In this case, the fast food restaurant must take precautions with either a special flooring surface or mats to prevent people from slipping on the floor.
What Must a Property Owner Do?
Under California law, owners and occupiers must take reasonable steps to keep their property safe. This duty includes addressing slippery floors. For example, a store owner might need to:
- Install carpets wherever water regularly accumulates, such as near a store entrance or in the produce aisle in a grocery store.
- Regularly inspect aisles to see if anyone has spilled liquids.
- Promptly clean up any condensation or liquids that the owner sees or knows about.
- Warn visitors of wet floors if they cannot immediately make the floor dry.
- Fix a burst pipe and even shut a store in some cases if the property cannot be made safe.
- Replace the flooring with a non-slip surface.
What property owners cannot do is pretend that they don’t know a problem exists or wait for a person to slip and fall before they finally act. If the property owner has actual knowledge of the slippery floor this is known as “actual notice”. If the property does not actually have any knowledge but should have known that the floor would be slippery, this is known as “constructive notice”.
Hurdles to Obtaining Compensation
A big challenge in these cases is showing that the property owner knew that the floors were slippery. If the owner created the hazard—such as by mopping floors—then they know that the floor is slick. The same is true if someone tells them that there is liquid on the floor or if an employee sees it.
But what if the owner doesn’t have actual knowledge that the floor is slippery? Are you prohibited from suing? As stated above, the answer is you are not prohibited from suing if you can show the property owner had constructive notice.
An injured person can still bring a claim for compensation if he or she shows that the floors regularly were slippery or that the liquid existed for so long that the owner should have discovered it. This is called “constructive notice.” For example, owners should know that floors in front of soda machines get slick, even if the owner did not see any slippery substance on the floor.
Contact a Los Angeles Slip and Fall Attorney Today
Slips and falls cause serious injuries, such as fractures, back and neck strains, or brain injuries. Let our law firm help you obtain compensation by building a tight case against the property owner. Call or schedule a consultation online.