California Slip and Fall Laws

If you're making an insurance claim or filing a personal injury lawsuit after a slip and fall in California, keep these state laws in mind.

By , J.D. · University of San Francisco School of Law

When you're injured in a slip and fall in California, it's important to get familiar with a number of state laws that are fairly certain to come into play if you end up making a claim over the accident. These include the state deadline for getting a slip and fall lawsuit started in court, and how your case might be affected if you're partly at fault for your accident.

Making a Slip and Fall Injury Claim In California

After any kind of slip and fall incident in California, you might have several options for getting compensation for your injuries, out-of-pocket losses, and other harm (these losses are called "damages" in legalese). For example:

Your goal in the insurance claim process is to come away with a fair settlement that covers the cost and impact of your slip and fall injuries and related losses. But keep in mind that even if your slip and fall case ends up in court, it can still reach a settlement at any point before trial (the vast majority of injury cases settle, after all).

To learn more about how these cases usually play out, check out our example of a slip and fall settlement in California, and get more details on making a successful slip and fall case:

The California Statute of Limitations for Slip and Fall Injuries

A statute of limitations is a state law that puts a time limit on your right to have a lawsuit heard by the state's court system. The time limits vary depending on the kind of case you want to file.

As in most states, the statute of limitations that will affect a slip and fall injury claim in California is the same as the larger one that applies to most personal injury cases filed in the state's civil court system. Specifically, California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1 sets a two year deadline for the filing of "an action for...injury to, or for the death of, an individual caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another."

So, if you want to file a personal injury lawsuit over a slip and fall, you have two years to get the case started in California's court system.

For more details on the statute of limitations, including exceptions that might effectively extend the filing deadline in California, check out our discussion of California personal injury laws.

What If Government Negligence Caused My California Slip and Fall?

If your slip and fall injury was caused by the carelessness of a government employee in California—you tripped and fell on a broken section of city-owned sidewalk, or in the DMV parking lot, for example—any claim you file will probably need to follow a special set of rules:

  • You'll likely need to provide the government entity with notice of your claim within six months of your injury.
  • You'll probably need to give the state or municipal government a chance to respond to your allegations.

Learn more about filing a claim under the California Tort Claims Act.

What If I Was Partly At Fault for My California Slip and Fall?

Before you decide to file an insurance claim or lawsuit over your slip and fall, it's a good idea to anticipate the property owner's argument that your own negligence played a part in causing your accident.

It's important to be ready to counter this argument, because under California's "pure comparative negligence" rule you could see a significant chunk of any court award taken away (and a finding of shared fault will also likely reduce the value of your settlement).

Learn more about comparative negligence in slip and fall cases.

Getting Help After a California Slip and Fall

Any time you're hurt on someone else's property, it's important to understand the big picture—including whether the property owner or someone else might be legally responsible for your injuries—and to make sure your rights are protected. Discussing your situation with an experienced legal professional might be a good next step.

Learn more about how an attorney can help after an accident or injury, and get tips on finding the right personal injury lawyer for you and your case.

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