Suppose you get injured from a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property. In that case, you may think that you’ll receive compensation for your injuries.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
While many slip and fall victims receive compensation for their injuries, you must prove three things to receive fair compensation.
We’ll cover them more thoroughly in this article, but they are:
If you feel confused right now, don’t sweat it–we know the legal system can feel complicated.
We’re here to make it easy, and we hope that by the end of this article, you’ll have a stronger understanding of whether you have a potential case or not.
This way, you can get the compensation you deserve for your fall.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
Property owners and businesses owe you a duty of care.
That means the law requires them to treat you with the same level of care and caution that a reasonable person would in that situation.
Quick Fact: Did you know that people are required to keep the surfaces in and around their property clean and unobstructed? If they aren’t, and someone slips and falls, the person who fell could have a case against them.
It’s important to remember that a duty of care doesn’t have to be stated or written down because the law holds everybody to a reasonable standard of care.
So when entering a home that isn’t yours, you have a right to expect there won’t be hazards or dangerous conditions that could cause you harm. We’re talking about slippery walkways, exposed electrical wires, or damaged stairs, for example.
In the case of being invited to someone’s home, liability should be relatively straightforward for your lawyer to prove since the owner invited you over and is responsible for your safety while at their home.
Pretty simple, right?
Things can get a bit trickier when you go to a store, though.
While most states have laws declaring that someone visiting a store is considered an invited party, thus holding store owners accountable to the same duty of care as homeowners, it’s not the case for all of them.
The major exception to this rule is trespassing. So if you visit a store outside of operating hours or receive a ban from a particular store, the store owner isn’t held to the same standard of care as they usually would be.
Now that your lawyer has determined the property owner was liable for your injuries, it’s time to prove they were negligent.
Negligence means the property owner was supposed to keep their property to a certain standard but didn’t.
Like liability, negligence is circumstantial and based on what a reasonable person would do in a given situation.
For example, one would expect a reasonable grocery store’s staff to mop up water pooling near the frozen vegetables after someone forgot to close the door when they grabbed a bag of peas. After all, if they don’t mop it, someone could end up getting hurt.
To prevent someone from falling, you’d likely hear “clean up on the frozen aisle” over the loudspeaker, and an employee would pitch neon signs around the would-be lake, notifying passersby of the potential risk. Then they’d start mopping up.
Let’s say the grocery store took the appropriate steps to alert customers to the wet floor, but someone ignored the caution signs and ended up slipping on the slick floor anyway.
It would be challenging to prove negligence in that case.
Even so, negligence is difficult to prove when someone isn’t aware of potential risk and slips as a result.
Tip: Taking photos of the scene right after the accident is one of the best things you can do to help your lawyer prove this aspect of your case.
The third and final item you need to demonstrate in a slip and fall case is fault.
This means that your injuries directly resulted from the property owner or business and were not caused by your actions.
Fault is often the trickiest condition of a slip and fall case to determine, and since it’s the defense attorney’s job to protect the grocery store owner from legal damages, they’ll do their best to prove their client is not at fault.
Sometimes, they’ll even use the definition of what constitutes reasonable against the complainant to defend their client.
For example, they’ll declare that while their client was negligent and should have cleaned the puddle up, any reasonable person would have noticed the hazard and avoided it.
In other cases, the defense could argue that it was your choice of footwear that day that made you more susceptible to falling. For instance, if the plaintiff had been wearing high heels or flip-flops.
What’s important to know about this is that even if you did do something to increase your chances of falling, that doesn’t mean you won’t receive fair compensation.
There is a principle in law called contributory negligence, which means the injured person knows that they played a role in causing their injuries, but so does the property owner.
You still get paid for your injuries, but you may have to take a reduction since you also contributed to them somehow.
Slip and fall claims are complicated because you and your lawyer have to prove that the defendant was liable, negligent, and at fault to win.
Given the legal system’s complexity, it’s essential to work with a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer when filing a slip and fall lawsuit.
Because they know the law inside and out, they can better prove the defendant is at fault, even if the defense argues that you played a role in sustaining the injuries.
Without solid legal counsel, you could end up draining a lot of time and energy, further contributing to the emotional toll such an injury can take.