We’re not indestructible, as much as we sometimes like to think we are. Unfortunately, a simple slip and fall accident could yield great damage to our bodies and produce a serious financial burden.
There’s a reason why slip and fall lawsuits are so common in the United States. Often, these types of injuries are the result of the negligence of another person or entity. As such, a victim should be able to obtain compensation under the law.
But how simple is proving fault in a slip and fall case? How does it work? Read on and we’ll walk you through what you need to know.
Who Is Liable?
Let’s face it: slipping, tripping, and falling is a common part of life. It happens in nature and it could happen in your very own home. Every slip and fall in one’s life isn’t a potentially litigious opportunity.
Still, there are many scenarios where another entity might be responsible for your slip and fall. There are a few factors that play into determining if an entity would be liable.
For one, the owner of a property must have caused the spill, tear, or whatever dangerous surface resulted in the trip or fall. Alternatively, a property owner could be aware of a potentially dangerous factor and failed to take any action to fix it.
There are also some situations where a business owner might not be aware of a tear or leak, but it is ruled that they ‘should have’ under the law. Their lack of awareness about this danger would need to be deemed legally ‘unreasonable.’
This is a slightly trickier distinction to make, as it is not as black-and-white as other scenarios. Judges and juries have to make sure people aren’t trying to game the law.
These ideas are what a judge and jury consider when a slip and fall case is brought in front of them. If it can be found that a reasonably responsible property owner would have prevented the incident from happening than the individual or entity will likely be found guilty.
How Judges and Juries Determine This
Negligence claims in just about any area of the law usually focus on the actions of the defendant. Did they act reasonably or not?
Since reasonable is a somewhat subjective word, it can be difficult to come to a consensus in some slip and fall cases. Often, a prosecutor will try to prove that a property owner does not make regular and focused efforts to make their property safe for use.
The time that a dangerous element existed prior to an accident can play a big part in determining this. If a large carpet tear has been present for weeks before someone tripped and hurt themselves, then it’s reasonable to assume regular inspections were not occurring.
Sometimes defendants are also asked to show evidence of their regular maintenance schedule. What kind of procedures does the business owner use to keep their business safe and clean?
If there are no procedures in place, it could be assumed that the business is not reasonably committed to safety.
There are many other angles to approach proving that a property owner did not take reasonable steps. A failure to put up barriers, to properly light, or to take steps to mitigate the risk of the dangerous area are all big indications of negligence.
In most situations, a judge and jury will need to look at each slip and fall lawsuit as a case-by-case scenario. There are some actions that might be taken by a property owner that are completely justified in one scenario but completely unreasonable in another.
Can A Victim Be At Fault?
Not every slip and fall case occurs 100 percent due to the error of the property owner. Sometimes, the carelessness of the victim can be a big part of the case in question.
There are some ways that a victim could’ve acted negligently in their own way. For example, let’s say an individual accessed part of a property that an owner did not have a reasonable expectation for them to be in. If they were to trip or fall, there likely would be too much comparative fault on the side of the victim to make a strong case.
Erratic or irresponsible behavior that contributed to a slip or fall might also make it harder to make a case against a property owner. If a victim’s own behavior contributed to an accident, they could be found somewhat at fault for their own injuries. It could hurt the chances of their personal injury case.
In most cases, a victim wouldn’t need to prove that they were being reasonably careful. This is the expected behavior. It’s only if there is evidence that this wasn’t the case that a victim could lose hold on their case.
The rules of competitive negligence weigh the fault of a victim against that of the defendant. Both parties can still be at fault: if one party was found to be much more at fault, they would still have to pay damages.
That being said, the compensation awarded might be smaller due to the victim’s role in helping to cause the accident.
Slip and Fall Lawsuits
When someone falls and hurts themselves there’s both pain and financial hardship they have to take on. If a person was injured due to another’s negligence, they could bring a slip and fall case forward as outlined above.
Need help with your own case? Reach out to us anytime for a free consultation.