In California, it’s legal for people who have been drinking alcohol to sue for injuries caused by falls or slips and falls on another’s property, including government-controlled sectors. This generally means even though they were intoxicated when the incident occurred, they may still sue for all or part of their injuries, as will be explained. We must consider a few factors, however, as intoxication can significantly impact how compensation and what amount is actually paid for the slip and fall claim. (See below comparative negligence laws section.)
True. If intoxicated individuals injure themselves due to a property owner’s negligence, they may not be able to sue the property owner or controller. This means that even if they do get hurt, their case may be harder to pursue. However, it is still possible to sue the establishment if a person slips and falls while intoxicated.
While it is always important to remember that many falls and slips result from poor decisions, it is also important to note that landlords, bar restaurant employees, and homeowners must inspect the floors, structures, and surrounding grounds for dangers to visitors. After a person has fallen, the person in charge must also take reasonable steps to ensure no one else falls due to the landlord’s actions or inaction.
I am Los Angeles attorney Michael Ehline. I am an expert in premises liability and negligence law with more than a decade of experience in Los Angeles insurance and tort claims. Below, I am going to answer the question in an examples and explanations format. Let’s go!
Although Margot is a fun individual who enjoys being with her family and friends, she is known for being intoxicated in public. This has led to her being associated with an open disorder that can make her loopy, off balance, and even slur her words. Her relatives and business associates are concerned about her behavior, but it has been relatively safe in the past.
After a few drinks with friends over lunch, Margot finally loses her luck. She and an intoxicated companion slipped on a water trail leading from the kitchen to a large handicapped person’s commode in the lady’s restroom. It appeared as though surplus ice was being carried into the female restroom and dumped into the toilets by a restaurant employee. There was no warning sign posted or any floor mats present. The two inebriated ladies fell and tripped, causing them to both get injured, with Margot suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and a serious spine injury. Her friend made it out with a broken ankle and fractured knee.
Margot was knocked unconscious, so she was taken to the hospital emergency room in an ambulance, where she remains in a comatose to this day. Can she or her legal guardian ad litem sue others even though she tripped and fell while he was intoxicated? Is the establishment at fault for Margot’s fall? Assume her friend has the same claims as Margot. The main thing here is whether the girls, had they been sober, knew or should have known about the wet floors.
If so, then the court will look to see if it was reasonable to walk on such a floor knowing they could slip. Since Margot is unconscious, this may be hard to prove unless there is a video or a witness statement. However, the court will look at the lighting and any distractions that would draw the eyes away from the floors as part of its inquiry. If it was dark, it might be a thing that speaks for itself.
So this is a fact-intensive situation and can go either way. Intoxicated or not, was her behavior reasonable? Now, the establishment will also need to show their actions in creating a slippery water trail were reasonable too! Why wasn’t a warning sign-up? Why wasn’t someone mopping up? Why are they dumping ice in the lady’s room, to begin with?
Suppose the establishment served Margot too much alcohol.
In some jurisdictions, if alcohol is blamed for the fall, you can sue drams for the injuries caused by accidents in:
Under California’s business law, 256022.1, an individual or business selling alcohol to intoxicated people could face liability injuries in their presence while drunk. As in the example above, careless or reckless actions in bars or restaurants can result in catastrophic injuries to patrons as well as others the drunk person has contact with outside the bar or restaurant.
Presume Margot attends a party at a friend’s home instead of at the bar. As the music is playing and everyone is enjoying it, she bumps into the loudspeaker, knocks it over, and falls, suffering the same injuries. Is the landlord liable for his injuries? The answer is maybe. For example, was there a speaker cord on the floor she didn’t see, or was she just belligerent and hostile, knocking things over?
It’s easy to assume that since Margot was intoxicated, she is responsible for any and all injuries she may sustain. If, for instance, Margot was drinking at a local dining establishment, she might later slip and fall on a misleveled sidewalk maintained by the City of Los Angeles while she was walking to her Uber or taxi pickup area. The same thing could happen at LAX when you depart the terminal and walk to the shuttle or pick-up area.
Is the person or business serving alcohol liable for her fall or making her drunk, or was she sober enough to where she would have fallen regardless? The main problem will always be the City wanting to cross complain against those who gave her the alcohol. If there is a toxicology report showing inebriation, the City Attorney can defend, saying the reason for the fall was not anything they did or didn’t do wrong. Heck, the DA or CA can even file a criminal complaint against Margot for being drunk in public, etc.
In the case of the bar or private home, it is also unclear if Margot should have been found solely liable for her fall. If the other party was negligent or reckless, they could be held liable to cover Margot’s medical expenses, lost wages, and any wrongful death damages if she passes away.
In the city sidewalk scenario, if the defect was open and obvious, she might not have a case against the City or its maintenance team. A knowledgeable injury attorney in California can help potential new clients like Margot build a lawsuit against the liable entities entangled in the matter, whether she was intoxicated or not at the time of her fall injuries. The personal injury victim can investigate and produce evidence to support their claim, and the defending parties can try and fully or partially blame Margot for being negligent.
No. Let’s take a look at the numbers to see if we can pinpoint more accurate fall data generally. Because there are no accurate statistics on falls and the correlation between intoxication and slip and falls, here is some basic data to get an idea of the typicality of such cases generally.
According to the 2020 Annual Report of the City Attorney of Los Angeles, the City Attorney’s Office reported that it received 1,061 new slip and fall claims against the City of Los Angeles during the 2019-2020 fiscal year periods.
Notably, these figures represent only claims against the city of Los Angeles. No data they provide covers private property in LA or in other cities, county, or state jurisdictions.
Cal/OSHA is tasked with enforcing workplace safety regulations in California, including those related to slip and fall hazards. Employers in California are required to report certain workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities to Cal/OSHA. This data can be used to track trends and identify areas where additional safety measures may be needed.
According to Cal/OSHA’s latest available data for Los Angeles County, 16 fatal occupational injuries took place due to slips, trips, and falls from 2016 to 2020. During the same period, there were 13,631 non-fatal occupational injuries due to slips, trips, and falls in Los Angeles County.
Again, these statistics only reflect workplace-related slip-and-fall accidents, and do not include slip-and-fall accidents that may have occurred outside of work or on private property. This is the most up-to-date information we could locate as of 2023.
No single agency tracks slip and fall accidents of guests at private businesses. Slip and fall accidents on private property, including at businesses, are typically handled as personal injury cases, and the injured party is responsible for seeking compensation for their injuries. However, there are some agencies that may be involved in the investigation or regulation of slip and fall accidents at businesses. For example, local building and safety departments may inspect commercial properties to ensure they meet certain safety requirements, such as adequate lighting, non-slip flooring, and handrails.
Additionally, state and federal agencies may have regulations related to slip and fall hazards in certain industries, such as construction or healthcare industries. A typical homeowner will have homeowner’s insurance or business liability insurance for injuries or deaths on their property. Some policies exclude certain types of things, like dangerous dogs o someone else’s property, etc. So it’s important for the injured person to have a lawyer look at everything when trying to recover compensation from the insurance company.
If property owners can demonstrate that you were consuming alcohol during the fall, it can be evidence of social host liability. However, if the property owner served alcohol to an intoxicated minor who suffered a fall injury, California laws may place these defendants in the crosshairs of a criminal court.
Alcohol and Falls?
With an adult plaintiff, consuming spirits could limit or eliminate the liability of a landowner owner and act as a legal defense against damages and other losses sought. Science cannot be challenged with regard to the that using alcohol increases fall injuries. Almost everyone understands how alcohol can influence our mood and reflexes. Alcoholism can be correlated with decreased motor skills and poor balance. It is also a leading cause of road rage and overall belligerent acts.
Evidence shows that drinkers are prone to suffering serious injuries while drunk and intoxicated. An experienced personal injury attorney at Ehline Law Firm can help victims like Margot obtain compensation after being injured in many types of slip and fall cases. From insurance claims to filing a personal injury lawsuit, we can assist with any serious injury and establishing the property owner’s liability.
Suppose the fall case occurred during or after drinking alcohol. In that case, the landlord or business owner may dispute liability for causing the injury, saying the plaintiff’s own negligence caused injuries to the plaintiff or their family members. The fall victims could counter and say the danger was not evident in people who didn’t drink. Ultimately, if there were obvious warnings the fall victims didn’t see due to a high level of intoxication, the landlord or other defendant could escape liability altogether in most states.
In most cases, the tenant has a right to know that a person has been convicted of criminal statute arising from the incident that caused them harm. To recover money damages for a dangerous condition, in a full and fair amount, we recommend you contact our law firm to discuss your personal injury case at (833) LETS-SUE. We serve clients 24/7 to make sure the liable parties are held responsible under California law.
California follows a comparative negligence system, which means the victim’s judgment or damages recovery awarded, may be reduced or offset based on the victim’s percentage of fault and failure to behave reasonably. In other words, it isn’t very easy. For example, if an intoxicated person slips and falls at a Home Depot. The jury finds they were 40% responsible for the accident because they were wasted, their damages recovery could be reduced by 40%.
In some cases, the owner of a property may try to argue that the dangerous condition of the area where the accident occurred was obvious and open. This “circumstances” defense is usually based on the concept that a reasonable person could have noticed the hazard; they would have taken the necessary steps to avoid it. Just like a car driver would know not to drive on a red, a sober pedestrian won’t fall into a clearly marked manhole on the sidewalk. But generally, a drunk person might. Negligence laws require the owner of the property to maintain the sidewalk in a safe condition, period. If the victim was intoxicated at the time, a settlement will almost always be a fact-intensive inquiry that will require expert witnesses and a winning legal team.
If you were on drugs or alcohol and were denied compensation for a fall injury, arguments may be available to get you full and fair compensation. Our slip-and-fall accident lawyers can help you establish fault and sue the responsible party or business owners. If you or a loved one has been injured in an intoxicated slip and fall accident, contact us today to schedule a free consultation to recover damages.
Our experienced attorneys will review your case, answer your questions with focus, and help you understand your legal rights, duties, and obligations with the information provided. Let us fight for you and your loved ones before you blow the deadline to claim damages. Even if you’re partially responsible, we can help you maximize your award, so call us anytime 24/7 at (833) LETS-SUE, or use our contact us form for a virtual consultation today!
Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of the largest motorcycle accident settlements in U.S. History. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves in being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride, and a a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.
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