Fell at work on slippery floor with no rug or caution signs...

by Abigail
(Commerce, CA)

As I was getting ready to leave work, the floor was wet due to rain and there were no signs or a rug near the exit. I fell on the slippery surface and injured my shoulder and wrist. My work place failed to send me to a doctor, so I went on my own. I have a torn rotator cuff, which will need arthroscopic surgery, and my wrist will also need surgery.

How can I get an estimate on just how much I would get for my injury plus the severe pain and suffering I've gone through? Is my work liable for not having signs to warn of the wet floor, or a rug to prevent falls? Can I file a lawsuit to recover compensation? Thank you for any information you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Fell at work on slippery floor with no rug or caution signs...":

Abigail (Commerce, CA):

Presuming you fell while technically still working ("getting ready to leave work"), your injury claim would fall under California's worker's compensation laws. To read the process of filing a worker's compensation claim in the State of California go to:
CA Department of Industrial Relations

You should also read: The Basics of Workers Compensation in California

However, if your work day was officially over, and the property upon which you fell was owned or managed by a separate entity, you may have the basis of a personal injury claim based on the legal doctrine of Premise Liability.

Property owners have a legal duty to do everything within reason to assure their property is safe from dangerous defects which might cause undue harm to those persons legally upon the property.

California law holds property owners liable for injuries to third parties when "...by his or her (property owner's) want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property a third party is injured."

However, the property owner may not be liable when the person claiming injury has "...willfully or by want of ordinary care, brought the injury upon himself or herself."

See California Civil Code Section 1714 (a)

In your case, you did not bring the injury upon yourself.

The next question is whether or not the property owner's failure to keep the floor dry and safe constitutes a "want of ordinary care."

"Ordinary care" can be interpreted as sending someone every hour or so to mop up the water, or place cautionary pylons near the water. A want of ordinary care would likely not require the property owner to have an employee stand next to the water at all times, ready to mop up the water each time a drop of water accumulated.

This reference under the law is referred to as a property owner's time to "cure the defect."

If you succeed in a personal injury claim against the property owner, and also receive benefits from worker's compensation, the workers comp insurance company would have a right to "subrogate" against you. This means they could take the proceeds of any settlement or court award you receive from the property owner, in an amount sufficient to cover the benefits they paid out on your behalf.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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