What if i’m Injured at an LA Swap Meet or Farmers’ Market? Who is Liable?

Posted on March 30, 2018

Los Angeles swap meets, farmers’ markets, and flea markets are favorite weekend activities for locals and tourists alike. Unfortunately, they aren’t always the safest settings for shoppers. Daily and weekly markets often contain serious slip, trip, and fall hazards – and may or may not have insurance to pay for a settlement or judgment. If you suffer injuries such as broken bones, sprains, or strains while visiting an LA market, contact a premises liability attorney. It may be more difficult to recover damages from these types of locations than others in California.

Who is Liable for a Swap Meet/Flea Market Slip and Fall Injury?

Liability for accidents in a market setting can be a tricky problem to solve. California premises liability law generally holds the owner of the building or land legally responsible for accidents that happen upon it. In a market environment, however, the owner of the building might not be at fault. The slip hazard could stem from one of the vendors. The vendors aren’t employees who work at the market, but rather independent sellers that simply rent spots or stalls. Can an injured slip and fall victim still hold the owner of the property vicariously liable? What if the city owns the property?

Many farmers’ markets in LA require vendors to carry insurance. Market managers will make it mandatory for vendors to have insurance to sell their goods – and/or purchase liability insurance for the entire premises. Liability insurance, or “slip and fall insurance,” can help protect the market from bankruptcy in the event of a lawsuit. The insurance policy will pay damages if a shopper files a claim against the vendor, the market, and/or the property owner (many cases allow the victim to file against all three). When an LA market doesn’t have insurance, the victim could be in trouble.

If the defendant doesn’t carry insurance, he or she might have to pay the plaintiff’s damages out of pocket. An attorney can help victims discover whether the defendant(s) have the means to pay a settlement or verdict prior to filing the claim. If the slip happened because of an individual vendor’s negligence, the vendor’s liability insurance might pay for damages. If it happened because of a hazard on the general property, or if the vendor doesn’t carry individual liability insurance, the victim may be able to bring a claim against the market itself or the overall property owner. In many cases, a plaintiff could name more than one defendant in these types of cases.

What Do I Do After a Slip or Fall at an L.A. Market?

After a slip and fall at a market location in Los Angeles, ask to speak with someone in the administration of the market. Report your accident to an authority, even if means calling the police. You will need an official record that the incident occurred, where it happened, and potential reasons for the fall. Take photographs of the dangerous condition, if possible. Seek medical attention for your injuries right away, keeping copies of your medical records. Then, talk to a lawyer before making a phone call to an insurance company.

Figuring out liability might take an in-depth accident investigation. If the L.A. market is a nonprofit corporation, you can still file a claim. Many markets in Los Angeles County carry multiple types of liability insurance, including enough to cover individual vendors if they do not have enough insurance to pay a settlement. If you were a vendor at the time of the accident, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.

An attorney can help you with the various aspects of your premises liability claim, maximizing its odds of success. Should the city of LA own the market or the land the market was on, you could still pursue damages from the city government. In general, you have two years from the date of your slip and fall to file your claim. Don’t wait too long or assume you don’t have a case. Instead, talk to a lawyer to discuss your rights after a harmful slip and fall at an Los Angeles flea market, swap meet, or farmers’ market. Contact the Los Angeles premises liability attorneys at Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP about your case today! (310) 477-1700

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