If you are at a residence or a place of business where you slip on a wet or uneven surface or trip over something and become injured, you may have grounds for a slip and fall personal injury case. The owner of the property and possibly any individuals tasked with proper maintenance of the property where you sustained a fall could be held liable for the incident. Their legal responsibility could task them with covering any costs related to your injuries including medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses related to your pain and suffering.
But proving such a case comes with many challenges, whether or not you sustained injuries, and it’s important to understand how a slip and fall case works to determine who is truly at fault for the incident and if negligence of any kind was evident on their part.
Proving Your Case
A slip and fall incident may seem pretty clear cut. After all, you slipped or tripped over something, you fell down and got injured. End of story, right? Not quite. Proving liability in a slip and fall case comes with many different components, all of which need to be clear-cut and evident without a doubt.
Consider the conditions under which you slipped and fell. Did you fall as a result of hazardous weather conditions such as rain, ice, or snow on the ground? Maybe you fell down as the result of a torn carpet or warped flooring. Perhaps the floor was wet from a leak some place or someone having just washed it and failing to warn others. Sometimes there is insufficient lighting to see where you are stepping and that could cause you to trip on a walkway or miss a step down a flight of stairs.
Simply put there are all kinds of hazardous situations that could lead to someone being involved in a slip and fall incident. The conditions of the environment in which you fell are going to play an important role in your ability to prove your case.
Winning a case and receiving compensation will rely on knowing what type of conditions were present at the time of your fall. It will also depend on identifying the parties who are potentially liable for the incident. Finding the individual or individuals who own the property where you slipped and fell and identifying any other parties relevant or pertinent to maintaining a property free from potentially injurious hazards will be imperative to the case.
This is because you need to prove that the individual or individuals tasked with ensuring a safe environment were negligent in some way and that negligence resulted in you sustaining an injury, no matter how minor.
Where negligence is concerned, the liable parties who are named as defendants in your case will likely argue that you were the cause of your injuries because you were the negligent party in this situation and your injuries were caused as a result of your own carelessness. This is the most common argument that a plaintiff will face in any slip and fall incident. The defense will claim that your actions led to your slip and fall and that you are partly or only to blame.
So any slip and fall case won’t just require you to prove that another party is liable for your injuries but you must also prove that you were in no way at fault for your fall.
Proof of Negligence on the Part of the Defendant
The key to proving your case is demonstrating that a property owner failed to act under reasonable circumstances to take necessary steps that would have prevented your injuries from occurring. If a property owner or other individuals are found negligent they can then be held liable for your damages.
Here are some things to keep in mind with respect to the conditions under which your slip and fall incident took place.
-Whether or not the hazardous situation remained long enough that the property owner or other individuals could have taken reasonable actions to rectify the problem.
-Whether or not the property owner or other individuals performed reasonable routine checks or routine maintenance of the property so as to prevent a hazard from emerging and presenting an unsafe situation.
-Whether or not any actions were taken with respect to routine checks or routine maintenance after your slip and fall incident occurred.
-Whether or not the hazardous condition in which you were injured had any reasonable justification and if this justification was valid when you were injured in the incident.
-Whether or not the hazard that led to your injury could have been drastically reduced or prevented entirely by actions taken by the owner or other individuals thus preventing the incident from taking place. Could the obstacle or hazard been moved, access to the area been eliminated, or signage placed in the area to warn passersby of said obstacle or hazard.
-Whether or not insufficient lighting or a reduction in visibility was the cause of the incident.
If any of these hypothetical scenarios apply your case could be very easy to prove. To summarize, a person may be held liable for your injuries if that individual, typically the property owner and/or any employees, agents, or other individuals found to have some responsibility in the matter, should have identified and recognized a hazardous situation existed and taken the necessary steps to rectify the problem in a timely fashion OR somehow caused the hazardous situation and did not take the steps to solve the issue, knowing it presented a hazard.
Proof You Were Not the Negligent Party
As is typical in just about every slip and fall case, the defense will point to you and your actions at the time of the incident as having been either partially or completely responsible for the injuries you sustained and that the defendant should not bear any or all responsibility. Many states now take this facet under consideration in deciding fault in any slip and fall injury case. This may also severely limit you ability to receive compensation for your injuries.
When the defense argues that you are the responsible party in the matter, that is classified as a comparative fault. The defendant will argue that you hold some level of comparative or contributory negligence which basically claims that you were injured either solely or in part due to your own actions. Should the defense prove contributory negligence caused your injuries you will not be able to collect any compensation. If comparative negligence is found to be true, your damages would be commensurate with the extent of the percentage of your responsibility. In other words, if a case is awarded $10,000 in damages and you were found to have 33% of the blame for your injuries, you would only receive $6,666 of that compensation.
For this to occur, the defense would have to prove that your fall occurred due to you being intoxicated or impaired in some way, you were texting while walking, or just not paying sufficient attention to where you were going. If you were injured in an area where you were not allowed to go, that could also place some of the onus on your actions. Any instance where you exhibited carelessness could work against you and limit or entirely deny receiving any damages.