Can I Investigate a Property in a Slip and Fall Case?

Can I Investigate a Property in a Slip and Fall Case?

I’ve recently discussed Los Angeles slip and fall issues.

As a Los Angeles slip and fall attorney, a question I often receive is whether a plaintiff has the right to examine or investigate the property where the slip and fall occurred.

The answer can be found in a 2000 California Court of Appeal decision titled Pullin v. Superior Court.

Lincoln Pullin slipped at a Vons grocery store in Inglewood in 1998.  He sued Vons for his slip and fall injuries.

Pullin’s lawyer engaged the services of a premises expert to visit the Vons where he slipped.  The expert, Ralph Engdahl, visited Vons and performed a quick analysis of the flooring where Pullin slipped.

Attorneys representing Vons cried foul when they found out about this after-the-fact.

They argued to the Court that Engdahl’s investigation and the evidence it yielded should be excluded at trial.

Their reasoning was that since Vons attorneys did not know about Engdahl’s investigation beforehand, the evidence should be thrown out.

Vons argued further that any evidence of this kind must be given to Pullin by Vons itself–Pullin’s attorneys weren’t entitled to obtain this evidence on their own.

The Court disagreed.

The Court held that property open to the public can be investigated without the owner’s permission provided that the examination can be conducted in a lawful fashion.  (Pullin, 81 Cal.App.4th 1161, 1165)

Essentially, “evidence is not made inadmissible by the simple fact that it is obtained by investigation rather than by way of formal discovery.” (Id.)

This case is important authority for permitting slip and fall investigations for property in California that is open to the public.

For questions about your Los Angeles slip and fall case, the Rabbi Lawyer is ready to assist, 24/6.