Whether you slipped and fell on private property or in a business, the challenge is the same: you have significant medical bills, time missed at work, and pain and suffering you have had to deal with, and a lawsuit can help you seek the compensation you need for those injuries. If you want to win a slip and fall accident claim, exactly what do you have to prove?
Ultimately, working with a slip and fall lawyer can make a big difference in your ability to find the evidence you need and pursue the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Knowing the evidence you might need in order to win your slip and fall case, however, can make it easier for you to decide from the beginning how to handle many of the details of your case, from how to handle things at the scene of your fall to how to communicate with the liable party’s insurance company after the incident.
How to Win a Slip and Fall Injury Case: What You Must Prove
Ultimately, in order to win a slip and fall injury case, you will need to establish that the property owner–or some other party that caused your accident–bears liability for the unsafe or dangerous conditions that led to your fall. There are several key factors that may contribute to that critical proof.
Your fall occurred due to dangerous conditions on the property.
In order to establish that you deserve compensation for a slip and fall, you must show that the property owner was negligent in some way, usually because the property owner allowed dangerous conditions to exist on the property. Those conditions could include:
The property owner should reasonably have known about–and taken actions to rectify–those dangerous conditions.
You slipped and fell due to dangerous conditions on the property–but does the property owner bear liability for that accident? In most cases, in order to establish that you deserve compensation for injuries sustained in a slip and fall, you will need to show that the property owner knew, or should have known, about those dangerous conditions.
For example, suppose that you slipped in a store due to a spill. If that spill occurred out of the sight of any staff members and had occurred only minutes before, you might not have grounds for a slip and fall accident claim, since the property owner could not reasonably have known about the problem. Likewise, if as storm caused damage to a flight of stairs, but there was no way to see the damage or the property owner would not yet have had the opportunity to check out the damage caused by the storm, the property owner might not bear liability for the accident. On the other hand, if a spill occurred in clear sight of store staff, a slip and fall occurred near the front of the store on a wet day due to water tracked inside, or you can see clear signs that a flight of stairs needed to be maintained long ago, the property owner may bear liability for the incident.
The property owner did not take needed steps to fix or help visitors avoid the potential danger.
Potential dangers can take a number of forms when it comes to a slip and fall–and many of those potential dangers can be, if not eliminated, at least substantially reduced by the property owner. However, in some cases, the property owner might not take necessary steps to help prevent a fall, despite knowing about those challenges.
Suppose, for example, that the property owner knows that a flight of stairs is in poor maintenance and that boards need to be replaced. If one of those boards breaks, leading to a fall, the property owner may bear liability. Likewise, if a property owner fails to fix a known piece of broken flooring or to replace a floor that has worn down over time, the property owner many bear liability.
Fixing or helping visitors avoid a problem also does not have to mean heavy-duty maintenance. Suppose, for example, that, on a rainy day, a store owner knows that the front of the store gets wet and slippery. The owner has several choices: make sure the water gets cleaned up immediately, use a flooring solution, like carpet, that does not become slippery when wet, or provide clear signs warning visitors about the potential hazard and guiding them around it. Most often, business owners choose to post claver signs warning visitors to their property about potential hazards, especially long-lasting ones.
A property owner could also choose to post warnings about dangerous flooring or stairs and provide a way for visitors to go around that area, particularly if the property owner must wait for the problem to get fixed.
What If the Property Owner Did Not Cause the Incident?
In some cases, a third party, rather than the property owner, may have caused the slip and fall incident. Most often, third parties bear liability because they have introduced some type of hazard into the environment: a vendor who puts an extension cord across a walkway, for example, or a construction company that leaves equipment in the floor without guiding visitors around the area.
In those cases, you will need to establish that the third party somehow introduced that hazard to the environment and that the hazard led to the incident: that you tripped over a cord or fell over an item that the construction company left in the floor, generally because it was in a dangerous area or one with poor visibility.
Do You Need an Attorney to Manage a Slip and Fall Claim?
If you suffered injuries in a slip and fall accident, an attorney can help gather the evidence you need to establish your right to compensation and help you put together a comprehensive personal injury claim. Contact Cambre & Associates, LLC to schedule a free consultation that will help you better understand your rights after a slip and fall.