How a Warning Sign Affects Slip and Fall Claims

September 2, 2020

Does a warning sign absolve property owners in slip and fall cases? Many people who have been injured in a slip and fall accident think that they have no standing because there was a warning sign nearby. While warning signs can help mitigate liability, the answer is a little more complex. Read on to find out about the effects of warning signs being present in a slip and fall case in Santa Rosa, CA.

Negligence is the ultimate issue

Slip and fall cases are a type of negligence case. Negligence is proven by showing that a property owner owed a guest a certain duty of care, they failed to meet that duty, an injury occurred and the breach of duty was directly responsible for that injury.

The standard of care in slip and fall cases is “reasonable care,” meaning that a property owner knew or should have known about the hazard, and what an average, reasonable person would do in similar circumstances. If the court finds that the property owner did not meet that standard of care, the property owner will be held negligent.

Slip and fall cases and warning signs

There are two different standards of care, depending on your state laws. Some states base their judgment on whether that person had a right to be on the land. California, however, uses an ordinary negligence standard. This standard requires a property owner to warn of known or latent dangers on the property that the guest could not have discovered on their own. That includes dangers that any reasonable person should have known about—that is, you can’t pretend that you didn’t notice the big pothole in your front driveway in an attempt to avoid liability.

Warning signs help absolve property owners of liability because the guest is presumed to have “assumed the risk.” However, it’s not a bright line—the warning sign needs to be placed in a visible location and be large enough that a reasonable person couldn’t miss it.

If you have a slippery floor on Aisle 10, but the only warning sign is placed on Aisle 9, chances are that most courts will find that warning inadequate. The sign needs to be enough to put a reasonable person “on notice” that there is an inherent risk in walking down Aisle 10, so that they can either proceed or take another aisle. If a court finds that your warning sign was not adequate, was not placed in a visible location or otherwise failed to put the average, reasonable person on notice, you as a property owner will likely still be held responsible for at least part of the damages.

If the person suing was found to have engaged in risky behavior, the property owner may wish to file a comparative negligence suit—in this case, the property owner’s liability would be reduced by the guest’s own negligence.

Have you been injured in a slip and fall accident and are wondering whether warning signs affect injury liability in Santa Rosa, CA? Call the Law Offices of Max G. Arnold, Inc. today.

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