Sometimes, it’s hard to prove who’s liable for slip and falls. Annually, thousands of people are harmed, many severely, from slipping or falling on stairs, a floor, or other surfaces that are becoming dangerous or slick.
To succeed in a slip and fall accident case, you should be able to establish the liability of the property owner. Here’s What You Must Prove to Win a Slip and Fall Injury Claim by AllLaw to explain it further.
Theories of Liability in Slip and Fall Claims
In order to hold another party responsible for injuries suffered in a slip and fall accident, an injured person must typically prove one of the following:
- A property owner (or their employee) should have recognized a dangerous condition (i.e. a pothole or an uneven walking surface) and removed or repaired the potential danger, but did not. The key question here is whether a reasonable person would have identified the condition as hazardous, and whether the defendant had ample opportunity to remedy the situation before the accident occurred. OR
- A property owner (or their employee) actually caused the dangerous condition leading to the slip and fall accident — by leaving a hazardous obstacle in a walking path, for example — and it was reasonably foreseeable that someone would trip and fall due to the condition.
Proving Fault in Slip and Fall Accidents
There are times when it’s difficult to prove who’s responsible for a slip and fall accident. Many people every year are harmed, loads seriously, from injured on a floor or other surface that’s become dangerous. Even the ground that’s become rough to a dangerous level can cause serious injuries. On the other hand, sometimes it could be hard to prove that the property owner is liable for a slip and fall.
Could the Owner of the Property Have Avoided the Accident?
If you or somebody you know has been harmed in a slip and fall, then it may be alluring to seek out justice via a lawsuit instantly. But first, think about this question: “If the owner of the property was more careful, then could the mishap have been prevented?”
For instance, even though a leaking roof causes a slick condition that you could slip and fall on, the owner of the property may not be liable for the injuries if a drainage grate in the floor was present intended to limit such conditions.
Additionally, property owners won’t constantly be liable for things that a rational person would’ve prevented, for example, tripping over a surface that would usually be located in that position (such as a rake on a lawn during the fall).
Every individual has a liability to know their surroundings as well as make efforts to prevent dangerous conditions.
Duty to Maintain A Reasonably Safe Condition
On the other hand, this isn’t to say that owners of properties are never held liable for others’ injuries in a slip and fall. Though there isn’t a cut-and-dried rule, the owners still should take reasonable measures to make certain that the property does not present dangerous conditions that’d result in an individual to slip and fall.
But this reasonableness is frequently balanced against such care that the individual that slipped and fell should’ve used. In a slip and fall accident, the following are a few guidelines that insurance companies and courts utilize when determining fault.
Slip and Fall Accidents: Proving Fault by Nolo has info on how to determine liability in a slip and fall case:
To be legally responsible for the injuries you suffered from slipping or tripping and falling on someone else’s property, one of the following must be true:
- The owner of the premises or an employee must have caused the spill, worn or torn spot, or other slippery or dangerous surface or item to be underfoot.
- The owner of the premises or an employee must have known of the dangerous surface but done nothing about it.
- The owner of the premises or an employee should have known of the dangerous surface because a “reasonable” person taking care of the property would have discovered and removed or repaired it.
To aid you with this case, Proving Fault in Slip and Fall Accidents by FindLaw features a few questions that you or your lawyer will want to talk about before starting a claim.
If you’ve been harmed in a slip and fall on the property of someone else due to a dangerous condition, then you’ll likely have to be able to demonstrate one of the following to succeed in a case for the injuries you go:
- Either the owner of the property or his worker should’ve known of the risky condition as another, “reasonable” individual in his position would’ve known about the risky condition and removed or fixed it.
- Either the owner of the property or his worker is aware of the risky condition but didn’t remove or fix it.
- Either the owner of the property or his worker caused the risky condition (broken flooring, spill, etc.).
Because loads of property owners are generally pretty good regarding the upkeep on their establishment, the first case is most frequently the one that’s litigated in a slip and fall. On the other hand, the first case is also the most complicated to prove due to the phrase “should have known.” Following the presentation of your arguments and evidence, it’ll be up to the jury or judge to decide whether or not the property owner should’ve known about the dangerous condition that resulted in you to fall.
How long had the defect been present before your accident? In other words, if the leaking roof over the stairwell had been leaking for the past three months, then it was less reasonable for the owner to allow the leak to continue than if the leak had just started the night before and the landlord was only waiting for the rain to stop in order to fix it.
What kinds of daily cleaning activities does the property owner engage in? If the property owner claims that he or she inspects the property daily, what kind of proof can he or she show to support this claim?
If your slip and fall accident involved tripping over something that was left on the floor or in another place where you tripped on it, was there a legitimate reason for that object to be there?
Learn more about proving liability in a slip and fall case by clicking on the articles above.