Slip and fall accidents can occur anywhere. A slip and fall injury can lead to disabilities and life-threatening emergencies. In some cases, trips and stumbles are unavoidable accidents. However, some slip and fall injuries are the result of negligence. Successful slip and fall claims must include evidence of certain conditions to determine fault in a premises liability claim.
Factors to Consider When Determining Liability in a Slip and Fall Accident Claim
- Duty to Maintain Safe Premises
- Personal Carelessness
Presenting evidence to prove negligence and fault in a slip and fall case can be difficult and complex. The evidence must prove the factors of liability in order to hold a property owner responsible for damages.
Slip and fall settlements can be significant. A slip and fall injury victim could be entitled to a substantial amount of compensation depending on the severity of the injury and the amount of medical bills, lost wages, and other financial damages typically associated with slip and fall injuries.
However, the first step is a thorough accident investigation to determine liability. Contacting an experienced slip and fall attorney who is familiar with the factors involved in premises liability cases is often the best way to ensure these accidents are handled correctly.
Duty to Maintain Safe Premises
Are Slip and Fall Cases Hard to Win? — Proving a Duty of Care Owed to Others
The first factor in a slip and fall injury claim is whether or not the property owner had a duty to maintain safe premises. The law requires that owners of property maintain their premises in a reasonably safe manner for guests and visitors. Conditions on the property should not create a hazard or danger that could result in an injury to someone.
Common causes of slip and fall incidents that could be the result in the breach of duty to maintain safe premises include:
- Uneven or damaged flooring
- Spills, drinks, and other items on the floor making the floor slippery
- Inadequate or faulty lighting
- Broken, missing, or inadequate handrails
- Exposed electric or wiring cords
- Tiles, damaged carpet, or damaged wood floors
- Damaged stairs or steps
- Ice or snow on pavement, decks, and stairs
A property owner that fails to maintain safe premises can be held liable for damages in a slip and fall lawsuit. However, you must also consider the other factors relevant in proving liability in a slip and fall accident claim.
How is Reasonableness a Factor in Determining Liability for a Fall on Someone’s Property?
Reasonableness is the second factor you must consider when determining liability for a fall. You must consider whether the property owner took reasonable precautions to maintain safe conditions on the property. Were the actions of the property owner sensible when compared to what a reasonable person would do in similar circumstances?
Some of the questions for determining if a property owner is liable for your fall and injury include:
- Did the property owner have a policy for inspecting the property for defects, hazards, and dangers?
- What was the property owner’s procedure for making repairs on the premises?
- If you slipped and tripped over an object, was there a legitimate reason the object was left in the pathway? Was the object in the pathway for a long enough period for a reasonable person to notice the danger?
- Did the property owner take reasonable care to warn visitors of potential dangers?
- Would a reasonable person have discovered the hazard?
- Did the property owner have a slip and fall risk assessment plan in place to help prevent injuries from stumbles and trips?
Even though the property owner may have breached his duty of care to maintain safe premises, you must also consider your carelessness as a factor in determining liability for a slip trip and fall.
How Can Personal Carelessness Impact My Slip and Fall Settlement?
Most slip and fall insurance companies will examine the accident victim’s personal carelessness as a defense to a slip and fall injury claim. If a victim’s carelessness contributed to the cause of the fall, the amount of your personal injury settlement could be negatively impacted.
For example, would a reasonable and careful person have noticed the object or hazard in time to avoid falling? Were you distracted and not paying attention to your surroundings? Did you ignore warnings of a potential danger or hazard?
In some cases when a victim assumes risk by voluntarily and knowingly entering a potentially hazardous situation, that person’s actions could impact a slip and fall injury claim. However, the assumption of risk does not excuse or eliminate a property owner’s negligence in contributing to or causing a slip and fall injury.
Proving Negligence in a Slip and Fall Case
Negligence is often a central factor in a slip and fall claim. To hold the property owner liable for medical bills, lost wages, pain, and permanent disabilities, a slip and fall attorney must prove the elements of negligence.
For a premises liability claim, the elements of negligence to prove liability for a slip and fall injury include:
- Duty of Care — There is a legal obligation between the parties for one party to act in a certain manner toward the other party. In a premises liability claim, a property owner has a duty to take reasonable steps to maintain safe premises for guests and visitors.
- Breach of Duty — The property owner committed a breach of the duty of care by failing to exercise reasonable care. For example, a property owner fails to repair broken steps or promptly clean up spills that make the floor slippery.
- Causation — The breach of the duty of care was a direct and proximate cause of the victim’s injury. The slip and fall injuries must be directly related to the breach of duty. For instance, the property owner knew or should have reasonably known that oil from vehicles in the parking lot make the area slippery. The owner did not take any action to warn customers or clean up the spills, and a customer falls because of the slick surface.
In addition to the above elements, the injured person must have suffered damages as a direct cause of the slip and trip injury.
What are Damages in a Slip and Fall Accident Claim?
Damages included in a slip and fall settlement claim include your financial damages and non-economic damages.
Examples of financial damages that a fall victim may incur include:
- Medical bills and other expenses related to treating the injury
- Loss of income, including lost wages, salaries, bonuses, and other forms of compensation
- Travel expenses to and from doctor appointments
- Personal care and help with household chores
- Medical equipment and medical supplies
In addition, a victim of a slip trip or fall injury may also receive compensation in a personal injury claim for future damages. If the victim suffers a permanent impairment or disability that results in future medical bills or lost wages, a slip and fall attorney may work with medical and financial experts to determine a fair and reasonable amount for future damages and losses.
Noneconomic damages are typically referred to as pain and suffering damages. Victims of slips and falls that are caused because of a property owner’s negligence can receive compensation for damages including:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional stress
- Mental anguish
- Depression, anxiety, and PTSD
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Permanent disability
The amount of compensation you may receive for a slip and fall accident claim depends on several factors. Factors that impact the amount of your slip and fall settlement include the severity of your injury, the length of your recovery, the amount of financial damages, and whether you suffered any permanent impairment.
Our slip and fall attorneys offer a free consultation to discuss your accident and injury in detail.
What Should I Do If I Am Involved in a Slip and Fall Accident?
It can be difficult to know what you should do after a fall on another person’s property. An injured person may be in shock after a fall and injury. However, the steps you take after a fall can be especially important in proving negligence, fault, and liability.
Some of the steps you need to take immediately after being injured in a slip and fall accident include:
- Report the injury immediately to the property owner, manager, or another person in control of the property.
- Request immediate medical attention for your injuries. An insurance company will use a delay in medical care as a reason to deny insurance claims for slip and fall injuries. You need to document your injuries carefully after falling or stumbling on someone else’s property.
- Ask for the contact information for any eyewitnesses to the fall injury. Eyewitness statements can be crucial evidence in a slip and fall lawsuit.
- If possible, take pictures of the scene of the slip and fall. Many times, the property owner corrects the dangerous or hazardous condition after the fall. Pictures or videos of the scene can help your slip and fall attorney prove fault and liability.
- Put your clothing and shoes in a garment bag and keep them in a safe location. An insurance company may argue that what you were wearing contributed to the cause of your fall injury.
- Do not provide statements or sign documents for the insurance company without consulting with a slip and fall lawyer. An insurance adjuster may request a statement or tell you that he needs a signed medical release to process your claim. These tactics are designed to obtain information to use against you later in a slip and fall lawsuit.
- Contact a slip and fall attorney to discuss the details of your case and your legal options for recovering compensation in a premises liability case.
The aftermath of a slip and fall incident can be overwhelming. However, the steps you take after tripping and falling can have a significant impact on proving who is liable in a slip and fall accident. An experienced slip and fall lawyer can provide the guidance and support you need during the days, weeks, and months following an injury.
What are Slip and Fall Accidents?
Slip and fall accidents are covered under premises liability laws. When a person is injured in a fall, the property owner may be held liable for the injured person’s damages and losses caused by the injury. Someone can trip and fall in any location. However, common locations for slip and fall incidents include:
- Grocery stores, malls, convenience stores, gas stations, restaurants, and other retail settings
- Hotels, resorts, amusement parks, sports facilities, parks, and other recreational or vacation areas
- Construction sites and places of employment
- Elevators, stairs, and escalators
- Parking lots and sidewalks
- Schools, government buildings, and public areas
- Personal homes of family members, friends, and neighbors
It is unfortunate when a person is injured in a slip trip or fall. The physical injuries and emotional distress can be devastating. In addition, the financial hardship caused by the injury can place an enormous amount of stress on a family. Dealing with aggressive insurance adjusters who may be pressuring you to settle your slip and fall claim quickly can also be a source of additional stress.
You do not have to face this situation alone. Proving liability and fault is a complex matter that you should not worry about when you are trying to focus on your recovery and your family.
The slip and fall attorneys of Acadia Law Group handle all the legal matters of a slip and fall lawsuit and injury claim for you. Discover how we can help you during a free consultation with an attorney. You may be entitled to substantial compensation for your injuries related to a slip and fall. Let our experienced team of legal professionals provide the support and guidance you need during this difficult, painful, and emotional time.