Have you or someone you love been injured in a slip and fall accident? In addition to a bruised ego, slip and fall accidents can cause serious bodily injury. Legally referred to as premises liability claims, slip and fall accidents are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims and represent the primary cause of lost days from work. If you were injured at work or on someone else’s property, you may be entitled to compensation if the accident was a result of owner negligence. Proving fault is often difficult in these types of accidents because there is no precise way to determine when someone else is responsible for your slip and fall. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can help you navigate this complex process and help you assess whether or not you have a valid legal claim.
Slip and Fall Accidents – Determining Liability
Obviously, not every slip and fall accident is due to negligent behavior. Sometimes, accidents just happen. Slip and fall accidents become a legal matter in situations where a property owner or other party responsible for a property’s safety and maintenance fails to adequately fulfill that responsibility. In other words, if your injury was caused by unsafe conditions on the premises, you may be entitled to compensation. The complexity surrounding slip and fall cases stems from the need to prove that your injury is a direct result of the property owner’s negligent behavior and that the conditions of the property are the direct cause of the injuries sustained.
One of the following elements must hold true for the property owner to be held liable for injuries sustained from a slip and fall accident:
- The property owner or an employee must have caused the hazardous condition that lead to the injury.
- The property owner or their employee must have been aware of the dangerous condition but failed to address the problem within a reasonable time period.
- The owner of the premises or an employee should have known of the potential danger. In other words, a “reasonable” person would have identified the potential hazard and done something to eliminate the threat.
If any of these elements are applicable in your situation, you may be entitled to receive compensation for physical and psychological damages incurred. When considering whether or not a property owner should be held liable for a slip and fall accident, judges and juries have to rely on common sense when evaluating the facts to determine whether a “reasonable” person would have acted under the same circumstances.
For the property owner to be held liable, that person (or their agent or employee) must have acted in such a way that a reasonable person would consider potentially dangerous. The following questions are helpful in determining a property owner’s “reasonableness:”
- Was the dangerous condition or obstacle present long enough that a reasonable property owner or employee should have been aware of the hazard, and did they have sufficient time to eliminate the danger?
- Did the property owner (or employee) have adequate policies and procedures in place to routinely check for potential dangers? If so, is their an accurate record of such policies and procedures?
- Were the circumstances that caused the slip and fall accident justifiable at the time of the incident?
- Would preventative measures have made the dangerous incident less hazardous? (different location, warning signs, brighter lighting, etc.)
When to Hire a Slip and Fall Personal Injury Attorney
Given the ambiguous nature of this type of premises liability claim, it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the incident. A lawyer will be well equipped to advise you at every stage of the process to help you receive the compensation you deserve.
Your attorney will communicate with the property owner’s insurance company on your behalf to protect your interests. Insurance companies want to pay as little as possible and will frequently try to blame the incident on the victim’s own carelessness in an attempt to avoid or reduce the claim amount. A skilled personal injury attorney will level the playing field and fight to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve!
Author Bio: Winner of the California DUI Lawyer Association’s President’s Award, Rick Mueller is considered one of the most feared DUI lawyers in San Diego. With more than 35 years of experience, Rick exclusively handles DUI and DMV cases.