Property owners, including restaurants, owe a duty of care to those on their premises. Slip and fall accidents that result from neglect of this duty of care can result in personal injury lawsuits. Here’s what to do after a slip and fall in a California restaurant.
Property Owner Duty of Care
According to California Civil Code Section 1714, property owners have a duty of care to those on their property. This means that they are responsible for injuries sustained by individuals on the premises when the injuries result from the property owners’ management or lack of care of the premises. Individuals who slip and fall in a restaurant due to some neglect or action by the restaurant are entitled to compensatory damages. If restaurant owners fail to maintain safe premises or to ensure that all those on the premises are aware of any safety hazards, that constitutes a breach of their duty of care.
Breach of Duty of Care
In order to prove that a property owner neglected their duty of care, plaintiffs must establish all of the following:
- The property owner owed a duty of care to the plaintiff.
- The property owner neglected that duty of care (usually by not maintaining safe premises).
- The injury sustained by the plaintiff was a result of this neglect of duty of care.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Cases in Restaurants
In restaurants, there are several hazards that employees are responsible to protect patrons against. Some examples of these hazards include:
1. Wet or oily floors
Wet floors can result from leaky mops and spilled drinks or food. If employees do not sufficiently warn patrons against spills (for example, failure to put up wet floor signs or to block off an area), they are liable for any injuries that may occur.
Tables and chairs that block walkways may result in patrons tripping.
3. Electrical wiring
If wires are not kept close to the walls, they may result in patrons tripping as well.
Waiters walking around may collide into one another, or patrons. Additionally, if the aisles are not wide enough, patrons and waiters may trip over seated individuals while walking.
Parking lots, patios, and other outside premises owned by the restaurant must be maintained so as to avoid risks.
What Type of Injuries May Occur?
Slip and fall incidents may be harmless, or more severe. Some personal injury lawsuits for slip and fall cases in restaurants may be settled for millions of dollars. Injuries such as broken limbs, concussions, spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injuries, and torn muscles can result in expensive medical bills that restaurants that neglect their duty of care are liable for.
What To Do Immediately After a Slip and Fall Incident
1. Seek medical treatment for any injuries sustained.
This should be done regardless of whether or not an individual feels as if their injuries are serious enough to seek treatment. This is not only because many symptoms manifest days, weeks, or months later (especially when it comes to traumatic brain injuries) but because an individual’s medical insurance company (or the insurance company of the property owner) may attempt to claim that the injuries did not result from the accident if the individual does not seek help soon enough.
2. Obtain photograph evidence of all damages sustained, and the hazard that caused them (for example, a wet floor).
3. Obtain statements and contact information from any witnesses.
4. File an incident report with the restaurant.
Most commercial stores have protocols for reporting incidents that occur on their property, which can be especially helpful if photographic evidence cannot be obtained. Individuals should request to make an incident report in the restaurant at the time that the slip and fall occurs, so that the property owner cannot deny it later. This report should include all of the facts of the case, such as the date, time and location, the names of all involved parties, the actual event of the incident, the circumstances that caused it (for example, a crack in a floor), the injuries sustained by the victim, and any other property damages that may have occurred as a result.
5. Hire a personal attorney with experience in personal liability law.
Attorneys can advise patrons on filing a detailed incident report, and whether or not they can prove a breach of duty of care and collect compensation for their damages.
If you have any more questions about what to do after a slip and fall in a California restaurant, get your free consultation with one of our California Slip and Fall Attorneys today! We won’t charge you a dime unless you win your case.