In today’s litigious society, the easy answer to this question is “yes,” but there are two especially important questions that you need to ask before even considering filing a slip and fall lawsuit:
Question #1: Who is the liable party?
Question #2: Was their negligence on the party of the liable party?
If there are definitive answers to those questions, other than yourself, you could possibly have a slip and fall accident lawsuit, but there is still a lot more work that has to be done before you have a slam-dunk case.
Examples of Liability in Slip and Fall Cases
Ignoring Dangerous Situations – for example, a business owner saw a crack in the sidewalk but refused to do anything about it. After weeks or months, the sidewalk gets to the point that it is raised, creating a potential hazard. If someone then trips over the sidewalk, the business owner could be held liable if the situation could have been presumed hazardous by a reasonable person.
Causing Dangerous Situations – for example, a business owner leaves a dripping wet mop in the middle of the aisle of their store. The water then begins to spread from the mop over the floor, creating a hazard. This is a situation that created a reasonably foreseeable accident; therefore, the business owner is more than likely liable for the accident.
Proving Negligence and/or Liability
When you are dealing in negligence and/or liability, the hot phrase is going to be “reasonable.” As you saw mentioned above, this is about being able to prove a “reasonable” personal person could have seen the “reasonable” risk associated and that any injury or accident was “reasonably” foreseeable due to said action or inaction by the alleged liable party.
Before hiring a slip and fall attorney or filing a lawsuit on your own, there is a quick checklist that you can run down to see if your specific accident meets the criteria the court will seek in such a lawsuit:
- Did the relevant condition exist for a period long enough for the owner to have done something to fix it? For example, if someone just dropped a soda and you came up right behind them and immediately slipped, that would probably not be a “reasonable” amount of time to expect the situation to have been addressed.
- Does the business or property owner in question have policies in place to routinely check for possible hazards? If so, do they have a record to prove this procedure has been followed?
- If the hazard was purposely created, was there justification for it, and did the reason for the creation of the hazard still exist when the accident occurred? For example, a hole was dug in the sidewalk to fix a gas line.
- Could the condition have been made less hazardous? Using the example above, caution tape and cones could have been put around the hole while work was being done to alert passersby of the hazard.
- Did limited visibility or poor lighting cause the accident? For example, outside parking lot lights were out when you slipped and fell on ice that had been there for days. In this case, both the lights and the fact the parking lot had not been treated could put the owner at risk.
You Did NOT Cause the Accident
This is where things get really interesting and the most difficult on the part of the plaintiff. For the case to fall in your favor, you are also going to have to prove that you were not the reason the accident happened in the first place. To avoid responsibility, the owner of the business or property may argue comparative fault, which is when the plaintiff is at least partially responsible for the accident.
In some states, contributory fault deems that if the plaintiff is found to have any responsibility at all, they are not entitled to any reward. In states that do not follow this rule, the award can be lessened by the percentage the court deems fell to the plaintiff. For example, a normal award for your accident would have been $100,000, but you were found to be 25 percent at fault, so the award would be reduced by 75 percent.
Do I Need a Slip and Fall Accident Attorney?
Were you recently involved in a slip and fall accident where you sustained significant injury? If you believe you were not at fault and are entitled to an award, you should talk to an attorney specializing in slip and fall accidents immediately. If you would like to discuss your case with no obligation, please give us a call at 855-633-0888. Or, if you would prefer to learn more about our law firm and legal services before consulting with one of our attorneys, please click here .
Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and Injury law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any injuries from vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, and medical malpractice.