You don’t have to have two left feet or be clumsy to end up slipping or tripping on another person’s property. In fact, these types of injuries, known as “slip and falls,” are quite common and happen every day. These accidents are usually the result of disrepair leading to dangerous conditions that result in someone slipping or tripping over the hazard.
Slip and falls, or “premises liability” claims, usually occur on property that is owned by someone else. If the property owner is found to have been negligent in their maintenance, they may be held legally responsible for your injuries.
Dangerous hazards can be something as innocent as a recently mopped floor or poor lighting due to a recently blown lightbulb, or they may be the result of the blatant neglect of an unmaintained building or parking lot. No matter how unintentional the cause, if the neglect results in a person’s injury, the owner is at fault.
How Do You Know Who is at Fault in a Slip and Fall Case?
The dynamics of every slip and fall case are different. Proving who is at fault can be difficult without a thorough investigation into the cause of the hazard that caused you to slip or trip and sustain injury.
The determination of liability depends on if the property owner attempted to maintain the area to the point that a slip and fall was possible, but not probable, or if they were completely negligent in their maintenance. For example, if the owner or manager had “Caution: Wet Floor” signs up but you still slipped, they attempted to be diligent in their prevention to some degree.
It also will depend on your actions and if you were careless or reckless. If a simple action on your part could have helped you to avoid your injuries, that will play a role in the results of the case.
The person who was injured in a slip and fall accident is required to prove negligence on the owner’s side. In most cases, the injured party does this with the help of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney.
You, as the victim, and your attorney must show that the accident was the result of a “dangerous condition” and that the owner was negligent in maintaining the property, resulting in your injury. To be qualified as a “dangerous condition,” anyone who is on the property must be at risk of harm from it and it would not be considered be a normal, foreseeable condition to look out for.
How Do You Prove Someone is at Fault in a Slip and Fall Case?
To prove someone is at fault in a slip and fall case, a direct, causal line must be established between the actions or negligence of a property owner or manager and the injuries of the person who was injured on their grounds. To do this, the burden of proof is on the victim and their attorney.
There must be evidence that the owner knew the dangers of the property existed. To establish this, you must be able to show that the owner created the condition, knew it existed and failed to maintain and correct it, and that the condition existed for an extended period of time in which the property owner should have been able to reasonably fix the hazard.
There also must be evidence that your injury occurred due to a slip and fall at the site of the dangerous property. Photographs of the area at the time of the incident, doctors’ reports, witnesses, and police reports can help prove this in court for you.
Finally, you also must be able to prove that the negligence of the property owner resulted in an injury to you that caused you pain and suffering and long-term injuries. Again, medical reports and expert testimony will be the best way to show a clear and causal link between your accident and your injuries.
The property owner will be held liable if this evidence is clearly shown, and there is a direct result of the property hazard to your injury.
Types of Potential Liable Parties
The type of slip and fall case you are going to be involved in will depend primarily on where your accident occurred. This determines the type of party that is liable for your expenses. There are three main types of settings in which slip and falls occur: commercial properties, government properties, and residential properties.
In a commercial property setting, the victim must have slipped or tripped and fell on business grounds, such as a restaurant or a store. The victim must prove that the owner or the business or one of their employees caused the hazardous item to be in harm’s way, knew the dangerous property was there and did not fix the situation, and should have been expected to have reasonably taken care of the property by removing or replacing it.
Liability in a commercial case can be more involved, since there may be more than one person or entity responsible in the line of the actions that led up to the hazard. The final verdict of liability in slip and fall injuries in commercial settings will ultimately be up to whether the law determines that the owner or manager took reasonable care in keeping their property safe or was negligent in their due diligence.
Another type of slip and fall case that will result in a special set of rules and circumstances is when an injury occurs on government property. If your accident happened on an area owned by local, state, or federal government, there will be different, stricter rules that apply. Your attorney can help you to determine if you are able to sue for compensation or if the property you were injured on is protected from liability by notices and provisions.
Residential property injuries are more clear-cut. Landlords or owners of a residential home may be held responsible for damages to people that occurred on their property. Most of the time, slip and fall injuries are in the category of landlord/tenant or landlord/third party.
To prove that an injury was the result of negligence on the landlord’s part, you must show clearly that the landlord was in charge of the property that caused the slip and fall, that to repair the dangerous hazard would not have been a hardship, and that you were injured due to this unmaintained property. You must also show that the landlord knew that an injury was possible and did not take reasonable steps to avoid an accident from occurring.
What to Expect When You File a Claim for a Slip and Fall
When you meet with your attorney, they will ask you questions to get an overview of the circumstances surrounding your accident and the steps you took afterward leading to your consultation with them.
Before meeting with your lawyer, it is expected that you would have sought medical treatment. Seeing a doctor is important, not only for your health – which is a priority, – but also to document your injuries. The documentation of your physician and other experts will be crucial in showing causality between the accident and your injuries.
It is also expected that you have reported the accident. It may have been to a manager or owner, but it must have been in writing and you must have a copy of the original report. In addition to this documentation, it is important that you have documented everything from the time of the accident.
This includes witnesses and their information, pictures of where you were injured, what you were doing at the time of the accident, and even what you were wearing. All of this may be important later when your attorney is piecing together the events and looking for evidence.
When you and your attorney have determined that you have the necessary criteria to file a personal injury lawsuit, they will then work with you to prove your case. It is important that you work with them openly and honestly and feel comfortable that they are working in your best interests.
Slip and fall compensation is determined by multiple factors. You can be compensated for your emotional damages such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of companionship.
You can also be compensated for monetary expenses that you incurred as a direct result of your injuries. These types of expenses include medical bills, future costs of medical care expected to be necessary, attorney fees, lost wages, and household bills and basic necessities.
Ready to Speak With an Attorney About Your Slip and Fall?
If you are considering filing a legal claim against someone for their negligence that resulted in your slip and fall, consult the professionals at Hershey Law for your free consultation. Our personal injury attorneys are experts in slip and fall cases and other personal liability.
Our goal is to give you our knowledgeable services with a personal touch. At Hershey Law, you are more than just a number.