If you’ve tripped, slipped, or fallen on someone else’s property (at a friend’s house, for example, or while visiting your neighbor), you might have a claim for compensation for your injuries. But who has to pay it?
The first question to ask is whether the homeowner has an insurance policy that covers them for third-party claims.
Fortunately, many homeowners do. In fact, mortgage lenders in California require their borrowers to carry active homeowners insurance on their property.
Even among people who buy their house outright (and therefore are not subject to mortgage requirements), the overwhelming majority of homeowners still carry property insurance.
The next questions to ask will be:
- Who was at fault for your accident?
- How much money is your slip and fall claim worth?
- Are the policy limits sufficient to cover your claim?
There’s a lot to know about filing a claim against homeowners insurance after a slip and fall accident in California.
In this article, we provide general guidance to help you answer these questions. We also discuss:
- The most common kinds of household slip and fall accidents,
- The process for filing a claim against someone else’s insurance,
- How to handle sensitive situations (for example, when the homeowner is a family member or close friend), and
- How an experienced Bakersfield slip and fall lawyer can help.
Is The Homeowner at Fault for Your Slip and Fall?
Homeowners insurance will only pay for an injury if the homeowner is at fault for the injury.
Generally speaking, homeowners are liable for injuries caused by their negligence. In the context of a slip and fall accident, this usually means the homeowner created a dangerous property condition (or otherwise failed to address an existing property condition, or failed to carefully inspect the property for dangerous conditions in the first place).
We’ll talk about some of the property conditions that most frequently lead to slip and fall accidents in a section to follow.
Note, however, that if you cause your fall through your own negligence, neither the homeowner nor the insurance company will be liable for your damages.
Example: If the homeowner leaves a puddle of water on the floor and you slip and hurt your back, the insurance company will likely be liable for your damages. But if you spill the water while visiting the home and slip on your own puddle, you’ll be responsible for your own damages.
How Much Money Is a Slip and Fall Claim Worth in California?
Every slip and fall accident is different. Some cause only minor injuries. Many others are moderate or more severe in nature. Common injuries include:
- Back injuries
- Sprains and fractures
- Shoulder injuries (e.g. shoulder dislocation, brachial plexus injuries, etc.)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Vision loss / ocular injuries
- TBI / head and neck injuries
In addition to compensation for your medical expenses, you may also be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering, lost wages, emotional distress, and other damages.
Some people make the mistake of belittling slip and fall accidents as “minor” as mere instances of “clumsiness.” In movies, an unexpected slip is even fodder for comedy. In real life, though, it’s no laughing matter. Slip and fall injuries can be significant, and the financial value of a homeowners insurance claim can be substantial.
Why Policy Limits Matter
Even if the property owner’s home insurance policy does provide third-party claims coverage (as is often the case), and even if you are able to show that the property owner is at fault for your injuries, the insurance company’s liability is limited to the homeowner’s policy limits.
Most policies include two different types of third-party claim coverage:
- Liability coverage
- Medical payment coverage (“med pay”)
These coverages might each carry different policy limits. (In some cases, a “med pay” policy will provide some limited coverage to you even if the property owner was not negligent.)
An experienced Bakersfield personal injury lawyer can help you determine the relevant policy limits for your claim.
If the homeowner’s insurance policy limits are not sufficient to cover your damages, your attorney may also be able to help you identify additional sources of compensation (depending on the facts and circumstances of your case).
The Most Common Kinds of Household Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents can happen indoors or outdoors. Either scenario might give rise to a homeowners insurance claim.
Dangerous property conditions that frequently lead to household slip and fall accidents in California include:
- Spills on floors
- Freshly waxed floors
- Uneven pavement, sidewalks, or walkways
- Loose floorboards or tile
- Poorly placed rugs
- Loose carpeting
- Toys, home accents, holiday decorations, or other tripping hazards
- Leaky ceilings (causing puddles on the floors)
- Accumulated ice or snow
- Weeds, roots, or other plant life that has not been adequately maintained
Staircases are a common cause of falls inside homes, as well as in commercial buildings (such as hotels, shopping malls, apartment buildings, etc.). Common staircase hazards include:
- Loose carpeting
- Bunched-up stairway runners
- Faulty or broken railing
- Poorly designed handrails
- Poor construction (for example, when the height of each step is not consistent)
- Foreign objects or substances on the stairs
- Loose wood in the staircase
- Exposed nails or other objects
The Process for Filing a Claim Against Homeowners Insurance After a Slip & Fall
Filing an injury claim against someone else’s homeowners insurance policy can be a complex process. As a general rule, there are three steps you want to take as soon as possible:
- Seek medical attention (even if you aren’t sure that your injuries are serious).
- Notify the insurance company of the injury.
- Contact an experienced Bakersfield slip and fall lawyer.
Avoid making statements against your own interest. For example, you should resist the impulse to tell the homeowner, “I’m not hurt,” “the fall wasn’t bad,” or “it wasn’t your fault.” Such statements could be used against you later.
What If the Home Owner Is a Family Member or Close Friend?
This is a common scenario. Too often, slip and fall victims forego justice because they don’t want to offend a neighbor, family member, or friend.
We understand that concern. Remember, however, that in most cases, the homeowner won’t have to pay for your damages out of pocket. Rather, it is often the insurance policy that has a responsibility to pay.
At The Law Offices of Mickey Fine, we can help you prepare a claim in a way that minimizes conflict with the homeowner whenever possible, focusing our efforts instead of an amicable resolution to the matter. While we can never guarantee specific results, in the majority of our cases, we have been able to reach an out-of-court settlement with the insurance company without having to take the homeowner to a trial.
You deserve justice in light of your injuries. Don’t let the fear of conflict cause you to suffer more than you already have.
Mickey Fine Is an Experienced CA Slip and Fall Injury Attorney
If you have been injured by falling on someone else’s property, you may have a substantial claim for compensation. In many cases, there is a homeowners insurance policy that may cover your claim.
Mickey Fine is a Bakersfield slip and fall accident lawyer who understands that every penny counts. He and his team are ready to fight for the robust justice you deserve.
Don’t be intimidated by the prospect of filing a claim against someone else’s homeowners insurance policy. Instead, put meaningful legal experience on your side. Contact The Law Offices of Mickey Fine for a free and confidential case review today.