Slip and fall injuries are a common type of personal injury that can result in either a settlement or a personal injury lawsuit against the liable party. While fairly self-explanatory, slip and fall cases are most commonly associated with grocery and convenience stores where there has been a spill and a customer “slips and falls” on the unseen hazard and is injured.
The biggest challenge in any slip and fall case is to prove liability. To win your case, you will need to prove that someone else (usually the property owner) is legally responsible for your injuries. Was the owner of the property negligent? Or were you, the injured party, just being careless?
In order to hold someone else liable for a slip and fall injury, your attorney will typically need to prove one of the following:
- The property owner (or employee) should have recognized the hazard and removed or repaired it, but failed to do so.
- The property owner actually caused the hazard that led to the slip and fall and it was reasonably foreseeable that someone could be injured by the hazard.
Proving either scenario is often difficult and frequently rests on how “reasonable” it was, or wasn’t, that you could have avoided the hazard and prevented your injury. In other words, it comes down to an argument about negligence versus carelessness.
Ready To Speak With An Attorney?
Negligence vs Carelessness
The line between negligence and carelessness is often very fine in slip and fall cases, and can also be a moving target depending on the situation.
When trying to establish negligence, your attorney will consider several factors, such as:
- How long did the hazard exist before your injury occurred? Was it there long enough that a reasonable person would have recognized it and taken action before you got hurt?
- Did the property owner or employees regularly check for hazards? If so, how often?
- Was there a legitimate reason for the hazard to exist? If so, could it have been made less dangerous somehow?
- Was poor lighting or limited visibility a factor in causing your injury?
On the other hand, the property owner (or their attorney) will likely argue that it wasn’t negligence, but carelessness on your part that caused your injury. They’ll be looking at any actions that you took, or didn’t take, that could have prevented your injury.
- Did you engage in any activity that might have prevented you from noticing the hazard, such as talking or texting on a phone, when an otherwise reasonable person would have noticed it?
- Were you legally on the property where the slip and fall accident occurred, or was there a legitimate reason for you to be in a dangerous area?
- Were adequate warning signs posted? Did you ignore any required safety measures?
For example, if you hit your head on a protruding object while shopping in a home supply store, but were typing a text message at the time, the property owner could argue that you were being careless and not looking out for potential obstacles.
If the property owner can show that your injuries are a result of your own carelessness, and not negligence on their part, your chances of getting a settlement drop to basically zero.
When Should You Call An Attorney?
If you’ve been injured resulting from and slip and fall on someone else’s property, whether it’s a private residence, retail store, or a commercial business, it’s worth your while to speak with a personal injury lawyer.
Many people don’t contact a lawyer after an injury because they’re embarrassed, or they know the property owners and don’t want to ruin their relationship. However, it’s important to address your injury from a legal perspective so that you can collect damages from the responsible party to pay for any medical costs, pain and suffering, and loss of income you may have incurred.
Even if you’re not sure your case qualifies, it may be worth a phone call just to get some peace of mind if you have any doubt about who’s responsible.