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Can I File a Lawsuit For a Slip And Fall At Work?

Can I File a Lawsuit For a Slip And Fall At Work?

When most people think of slip and fall accidents, they tend to think of those at grocery stores and retail businesses, residential homes and housing complexes, and other locations where slip, trip, and fall risks are common.

However, not all slip and falls involve people in leisure-time activities; sometimes, they involve workers.

Workers’ Comp vs. Personal Injury: What’s the Difference?

When workers are injured in the course of performing job-related duties, their sole remedy against their employer is workers’ compensation. A type of no-fault insurance carried by most employers, workers’ comp can provide benefits (such as medical care, temporary and permanent disability benefits and vocational rehabilitation) to employees who are off work due to their injuries.

Unlike a personal injury lawsuit, you do not need to prove your employer was negligent because workers’ compensation is a no-fault system; if you are injured on the job you are entitled to recover benefits.

Of course, there are times where accidents involving workers result from the negligence of a third party; someone other than their employer or co-workers. In these cases, in addition to being entitled to collect workers’ compensation benefits, the injured worker can bring a third-party civil suit against the negligent person or entity who created the dangerous condition. Benefits under the worker's compensation system are limited. The benefits you can receive in a third party civil suit are much broader and can more fully compensate the worker for the total harm suffered by the worker.

Workplace Slip & Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents in the workplace can give rise to premises liability claims – that is, civil legal actions which look to hold landowners (or those who “control” a property) financially responsible for damages victims suffer on their property, particularly when they failed to:

  • Keep property in a reasonably safe condition;
  • Use reasonable care to discover dangerous conditions; and
  • Repair, replace, or warn about hazards that could reasonably be expected to cause harm.

Some slip and fall accident cases are straightforward – such as a store employee spilling liquid onto the ground, causing a customer to slip and fall. Others can be quite complex, especially when certain legal concepts – such as duty, notice, or concealed / obvious defect – are open to interpretation.

When a person slips, trips, or falls in the course of performing work-related duties, matters of workers’ compensation and third-party liability can also add to challenges in these cases.

Third-Party Liability in Work Slip and Fall Case

There are an infinite number of situations where a worker can slip and fall as the result of a third party's negligence.

Some examples include:

  1. A worker who took the elevator to the second floor and, upon stepping out, slipped and fell. It turned out the cleaning vendor, a third party contracted by the worker’s employer, had just waxed the floor with excessively slippery compound and failed to warn of the danger until the compound completely dried.
  2. A worker who slipped and fell on his normally pristine loading dock. It turned out that a vendor was using his own forklift to offload the truck's contents, but it was leaking oil; he left without cleaning the oil up or warning the dock manager of the condition.
  3. A worker who was loading his flatbed truck with empty containers. He parked where the loading dock man directed him. Empty containers were stacked higher than they were supposed to be. When the wind picked up, the containers fell on the truck driver, causing him injury.

Though workers’ compensation claims do not require victims to prove fault and liability, civil suits filed outside of the workers’ comp system do. As with other premises claims, third party work injury suits will require victims to prove the key elements of a premises case, including:

  • Duty;
  • Breach of Duty;
  • Negligence / Causation; and
  • Damages.

Workplace slip and fall accidents can create challenges in determining who can be held responsible, as the person or entity who created the dangerous condition which caused the accident is typically long gone before it occurs.

As such, it becomes critical for injured workers and families to take steps to gather and preserve as much information as possible, and to immediately bring their case to the attention of experienced attorneys who can help conduct premises liability investigations, identify potentially liable parties, and compile the evidence required to support claims of negligence.

Potentially Liable Third Parties

Third-party premises liability claims are not limited to slip and fall cases, they can include any type of accident where a third party's negligence is a cause of the accident. Third parties in these types of cases may include one or more third parties, such as:

  • Third party contractors / vendors on a worksite;
  • Maintenance or cleaning crews;
  • Premises owners (when work is performed on property owned by someone other than a worker’s employer);
  • Manufacturers of defective products;
  • Transportation, loading dock, or distribution companies;
  • Equipment or machinery repair companies;
  • Negligent motorists (not associated with a worker’s employer);

In some fields of work, such as construction, there may be a number of contractors and subcontractors involved in a project and / or present on a worksite. In addition to being liable for negligence of their own doing, third-party contractors can also be liable for injuries and damages that result from dangerous conditions created by their employees, even if they argue they had no notice or knowledge of the dangerous condition (CACI 1012).

For employees of contractors who are hired by premises owners to perform work on their property, there are specific elements to prove when bringing a claim. Per CACI 1009B, that includes proving:

  1. The defendant owned, leased, occupied, or controlled the property where work was being performed;
  2. The defendant retained control over safety conditions on the worksite;
  3. The defendant negligently exercised their retained control over safety conditions (i.e. was negligent in keeping property in a reasonably safe condition); and
  4. That a worker suffered harm and damages as a result of the property owner’s negligence.

Damages

Recoverable damages in a civil injury case may include:

  • Medical bills and future medical expenses
  • Lost income and future wages
  • Past and future pain and suffering
  • Loss of quality of life, loss of emotional support, loss of companionship, etc.
  • Punitive damages (only in cases involving “egregious” conduct)

Just as with other civil injury claims, premises liability cases demand the attention of experienced attorneys who can assist victims in pursuing full and fair compensation for their damages, as well as any future expected losses they’ll face due to their injuries.

Questions? Call Biren Law Group For a Free Consultation

Biren Law Group has cultivated a reputation as a client-focused, boutique personal injury law firm. Over the years, our civil trial lawyers have recovered millions in compensation for injured victims and families across the greater Los Angeles area, and have gained the respect and esteem of colleagues and clients alike.

If you have questions about a work slip and fall accident, premises liability, or another personal injury matter, our team is available to review your case during a free consultation. Call to speak with an attorney.

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