Within the purview of personal injury that results in a liability lawsuit, the most demeaning for both parties is the ordinary slip and fall lawsuit. In automobile accidents, accidents on the job or medical malpractice litigation, there usually is no doubt that the plaintiff was injured and that the defendant was either at fault or wrongfully involved in some manner.
Slip and fall lawsuit ramifications broach another type of issue and another causative action with mitigating circumstances that may or may not increase any punitive damages awarded. It is sometimes difficult to discover and even harder to prove who is at fault for slip and fall accidents. Thousands of people each year are injured, many seriously, from slipping and falling on a floor, stairs or even ground that is uneven to a dangerous degree. Sometimes it may be difficult to prove, however, that the owner of the property is responsible for slip and fall accident injuries. This is why the slip and fall lawsuit is a favorite of con artists and malingerers who falsify accidental injuries.
Could the Property Owner Have Prevented the Accident?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall, you may be tempted to seek justice through a lawsuit as soon as possible. That would not be prudent. Stop and ask yourself this question: If the property owner were more careful, could the accident have been avoided? Even with a leaking roof leading to a slippery floor or sidewalk condition, the property owner may not be liable for any injuries if there was a drainage grate in the floor intended and designed to limit slippery conditions. Also, property owners will not always be legally liable for things that a reasonable person would normally have avoided, such as stumbling over something that would normally be found in that location. We all have responsibility to be aware of our surroundings and to take care of our own safety.
Property owners are seldom held legally liable for injuries of plaintiffs who slipped and fell on their property. Although there is not an absolute rule, all property owners must do is take reasonable steps keeping their property free from dangers. This is often balanced against the care that the person who fell should have utilized for their own safety.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident on property because of a dangerous condition, you need to prove one of the following in order to win a case for your injuries:
- The property owner or employee knew or should have known of the dangerous condition.
- The property owner or employee actually knew about the dangerous condition but did not fix it.
- The property owner or employee caused the dangerous condition.
Because property owners are usually persons who keep premises safe and liability issues nil, the first example above is the most common.
When you show a property owner is liable, you will have to show the unreasonableness of his actions.
- How long has the defect been present before your accident?
- If your slip and fall accident involved tripping over something on the floor, why was it there?
Most states have the rule of "comparative negligence" regarding slip and fall lawsuit damages, meaning if you contributed to your accident, your award for injuries may be lessened by the percentage of your own negligence.