Navigating Liability in Slip and Fall Injury Cases
Understanding Accountability in Slip and Fall Incidents on Another’s Property
Each year, countless individuals sustain injuries, some severely, due to slips, trips, and falls on unsafe surfaces such as uneven floors, staircases, and irregular terrains. Determining whether the property owner is liable for these mishaps can be intricate.
Suffering an injury from a fall can be a traumatic experience. At Goldberg & Goldberg, we understand the complexities of proving fault in slip and fall cases. It is a common part of life for objects to clutter a ground space or for surfaces to become slippery; therefore, it’s not always the case that a property owner can be held accountable for every tripping or slipping hazard. However, it is incumbent upon property owners to maintain their premises with reasonable care to prevent accidents.
Yet, property owners must exercise diligence in maintaining their property. Liability often hinges on whether the property owner took adequate steps to prevent foreseeable slipping or tripping and whether the injured party could have reasonably avoided the hazard. The following guidance aims to shed light on when another party may be responsible for your slip or trip and subsequent injury.
For a property owner to be held legally accountable for injuries from a slip or trip and subsequent fall on their grounds, at least one of the following must hold true:
- The hazard must have been created by the property owner or their employees.
- The property owner or their employees were aware of the perilous condition but failed to act.
- The owner or their employees should have been aware of the danger had they been taking reasonable care of the property.
The latter situation often generates the most debate, given its subjective nature regarding what the owner “should have known.” Assessing liability in these cases frequently boils down to common sense. The level of care exercised by the property owner or manager is evaluated by judges and juries based on whether their actions were pragmatic and thorough in keeping the property risk-free.
The Criteria for “Reasonableness”
A property owner’s diligence in keeping the premises secure is under legal scrutiny. The following questions may help assess if a property or business owner is potentially liable for your slip or trip and fall injuries:
- Was the dangerous condition present long enough that a sensible owner should have been aware of it?
- Is there evidence of a regular protocol for inspecting and remedying hazardous areas on the property?
- If an obstacle caused your fall, did it serve a legitimate purpose at the location, and could it have been safely removed or marked after serving its purpose?
- Was there a feasible means to secure the object, place it differently to reduce risks, or provide sufficient warnings to prevent an accident?
- Could dim or malfunctioning lighting have been a factor in your fall?
If any of these questions are answered in your favor, you might be entitled to seek damages. However, it is important to consider whether your actions may have contributed to the occurrence as well.
Assessing Your Role in the Accident
When pursuing a slip or trip and fall case, it’s crucial to gauge if your actions may have contributed to the mishap. Comparative negligence laws weigh the prudence of your behavior in relation to the accident. Reflect on your actions before the incident and expect that an insurance adjuster will inquire about them subsequent to a claim being filed.
- Did your presence in the hazardous area make sense, and could the owner have foreseen it?
- Might a vigilant person have spotted the danger and sidestepped it or proceeded with enough caution to avoid a fall?
- Did you receive any warnings indicating a potential hazard?
- Were you engaged in any distractions or behaviors that might have made a fall more probable?
It’s not necessary to convince an insurance agent of your cautiousness; however, clearly articulating your activities can help them understand that your actions were not reckless.
Goldberg & Goldberg are here to guide you through your slip and fall claim with the attention and skill it deserves. For a Free Consultation, reach out to us at (301) 654-5757, and let our experience work for you.
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