Our Los Angeles attorneys handle many slip and fall cases during the winter months. While Southern California is known for its nice weather, many Los Angeles residents visit colder parts of the state for vacation, work, or to visit relatives. Icy walkways are particularly hazardous to those who are not used to encountering them, which is why it is worth knowing what to do if you slip and fall in such icy conditions. While legal liability does not always attach to this type of slip and fall accident, in many cases there is someone who was responsible for de-icing or clearing the area and failed to do so.
To win a slip and fall case you must prove that someone (typically a property owner or a municipal entity) was negligent. Negligence simply means that they had a duty to do something and they failed to do it or did it incorrectly. For example, if a homeowner has a duty to clear icy conditions from the sidewalk fronting their home and fails to do so, this might result in an unreasonably unsafe condition – resulting in negligence liability for the homeowner if someone slips and injures themselves.
Document the Conditions
If you do fall in these conditions, the first thing to do is to take a photo to document that the area was unreasonably unsafe. You will need to prove both that there was a duty to clear the area and also that it was not cleared at the time you slipped and fell. Failure to document the area through photos means you may need to rely upon witnesses to provide evidence of the dangerous condition. Alternatively, it could become a “he said, she said” situation between you and the person legally responsible for clearing the area. Taking a picture immediately after the injury is best, if possible, but even sending someone back later in the day or the following day can be helpful.
Report the Injury
Just as properly documenting the condition can be powerful evidence, so can the fact that you reported the injury. There are two places you can report. First, you can call authorities such as the city or county to let them know of the dangerous condition and the fact that you have been injured. You can also alert the owner of the property. If you fall on private property such as the common grounds of an apartment building or the icy sidewalk outside a neighbor’s house, it is fairly easy to find the owner. If you fall on government property, call the police (non-emergency line) or city hall. Reporting the injury at the time it happens lends necessary credence to your experience, since a defendant could later argue that if you had been seriously hurt you would have reported it.