What You Must Prove to Win a Slip & Fall Injury Claim
Slip & Fall Info From California Attorneys
Slip and fall injuries account for more than 1 million visits to hospital emergency rooms.
Now, there are several causes behind these accidents, and so you may wonder – is there a legal liability involved? The answer varies. Sometimes there is, and sometimes there isn’t.
It is entirely dependent on the circumstances of the case. Where did it happen? How did it happen? Was it preventable?
However, before we delve deeper into how you can establish a slip and fall case, let’s examine the rationale behind your right to file a lawsuit like this.
The Rationale Behind a Slip and Fall Lawsuit
The law that grants you the right to file a lawsuit, makes two assumptions. These assumptions help you make your case.
Existence of a Dangerous Condition
Firstly, it assumes that any property owner should have identified any harmful conditions on their property. These could be in the form of trenches, potholes or similar objects.
Secondly, the condition must be such that any person of average intelligence could foresee such a situation being potentially harmful. For example, it is reasonable to assume that a person may slip and fall on an unnoticeable pothole in the dark.
In this way, the law assumes that every property owner must perform their duty of care towards managing such potentially harmful situations.
Now that you’re familiar with these principles, let’s get into what you need to prove to establish your case.
Duty of Care
The duty of care owed to you largely depends on the kind of presence you have on the respected premises. In other words, in what capacity are you on the property in question?
Were you invited? Or were you trespassing?
If you were invited to the premises, there is a higher duty of care towards you. If you are a licensee (someone there of their own accord, but with permission), there is still a duty of care. However, if you are a trespasser there is no duty of care.
Also, consider the nature of the premises. For example, places like restaurants, stores, and supermarkets owe a duty to their customers to maintain safe premises. However, if you wander through someone’s house, there is a much lower duty of care, and in most cases none at all.
Now that you’ve established a duty of care, you must consider whether such duty was neglected. It is also important to note that the failure to exercise this duty is the cause of your injury.
Keep in mind that you slipping and falling in a restaurant doesn’t always mean that it was an act of negligence. For example, if there was a warning for a wet floor, and you walked, slipped and fell on that floor anyway, it won’t be considered negligence. This is because the owner has fulfilled their duty of care by putting up a warning sign.
However, if there was no sign to warn you, or the sign was not easily visible, then it would be a clear case of negligence.
It is not necessary that the owner eliminate the dangerous condition entirely, especially if it is a newly developed condition. It can perhaps be argued that if the management has done nothing to better an easily remedied situation for a long time, then they are at fault despite the warnings they may provide.
To establish your case, you need someone responsible for an accident. There should be someone or some institution that owes you that duty of care or that acted negligently.
This leads us to our next point – how do you determine the defendant in a slip and fall case?
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Determining Liability in a Slip and Fall Case
The owner of the premises is generally the person who owes a duty of care to his invitees/ licensees or visitors. However, what happens when you cause your own accident?
If somehow your accident was caused due to a combination of the defendant’s negligence and your own carelessness, it might be a case of contributory negligence.
Now in certain states, you won’t be allowed any damages in a personal injury lawsuit where you contributed to your injury. However, other states might follow different principles.
In situations where its a clear case of gross negligence on the part of the owner, you will be entitled to your share of damages. These are the most straightforward of personal injury cases.
In situations like these, certain states may allow you compensation to the degree that the defendant is responsible for your injury. This means that you won’t be awarded all of the damages, and a fraction proportionate to your fault will be subtracted from your compensation.
In a lot of cases, while it is the owner’s responsibility to warn you or protect you from a hazard, they may have delegated this responsibility to someone else. When this person fails to fulfill this duty, the owner will be held vicariously liable.
Determining Your Course of Action
If you’re confused about whether or not your slip and fall accident warrants a lawsuit, it is best that you consult a personal injury attorney. A lawyer who is well-versed with personal injury law and the peculiarities within your own state’s laws will be better suited to help you determine your next course of action.
Get in touch with our expert attorneys and set up a free consultation for your case. All you have to do is fill in a few basic details and we’ll get right back to you!