Owners or Landlords Are Responsible for Slip and Fall Injury
Do you know that store proprietors share a duty to ensure that their facilities maintain the proper working condition? Did you know that public municipalities have a duty to maintain the public thoroughfares to minimize the risk of someone tripping and injuring themselves? Even landlords share a duty to ensure that their tenants (and guests of their tenants) premises maintain a satisfactory level of upkeep. If a tenant or their guest slip and fall, the landlord can be held responsible for their injuries.
If you have suffered a personal injury after someone negligently failed to maintain a sidewalk, set of stairs, or other such structure, or if you slipped on a foreign substance and fell and injured yourself in the process, you may have the right to recover for your medical expenses, lost wages, and also pain and suffering.
Understanding the Role of Negligence in a Slip and Fall Lawsuit
Slip and fall lawsuits are generally brought against either store owners, property managers, or homeowners. Each of these presents a different defendant. When a homeowner is liable in a slip and fall accident, the claim is made against their homeowner’s insurance (if they have it). For those who rent, claims can be made against their renter’s insurance.
Parking lots are a common place where slip and fall accidents occur. Generally speaking, parking lots are owned and managed by some corporate entity, usually a landlord who rents out the space to commercial vendors. This landlord is responsible for the upkeep of the property. This includes the parking lot. If they maintain an unsafe condition and someone slips and falls, the landlord is ultimately responsible for their injuries. Had they plowed and salted the parking lot, the individual would not have fallen. Hence why they are negligent for the damages.
The majority of personal injury law (or tort law as it’s called) is governed by the question of negligence. Negligence has a three-factor test for legal proof. That is:
- Did the defendant owe a duty of care to the plaintiff?
- Did the defendant breach that duty of care?
- Were there injuries as a result of that breach?
In the case of a store owner or a landlord, the duty of care may be laid out in the lease. In other instances, there is an implied duty of care. If a store owner expects that the public will frequent their establishment, then they owe an implied duty of care. That implied duty of care only extends so far, however.
A store owner cannot be responsible for every hazard that could possibly exist. So in order for a plaintiff to show that they breached that duty of care, the plaintiff must prove that the store owner either knew about the danger and did nothing or should have known about the danger.
Parking lot lawsuits generally establish this standard of proof quite easily. The parking lot owner or manager is responsible for seeing that the lot is plowed and salted. When they fail this duty, a lawyer can argue that they should have known it was likely that people could fall based on the weather. That constitutes a breach of their duty of care.
The job of your slip and fall lawyer is to establish that the defendant breached their duty of care and your injuries were a result of that breach.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents happen in a variety of environments for a number of reasons. The aforementioned parking lot scenario is one of the most common in Washington and Idaho. In fact, even homeowners have this duty. They can be held liable when another person slips and falls on their un-shoveled sidewalk or while going up their un-shoveled stairs.
Other than weather conditions, common reasons for slip and fall accidents include:
- Slippery floor conditions. Recently mopped floors should be clearly marked or cordoned off so that passersby know to take caution when walking on them.
- Improperly maintained stairways. Stairways that have fallen into disrepair can result in serious injuries to coming up or down them.
- Obstacles or poorly placed objects in supermarkets or department stores. Stores like Walmart get hit with these kinds of suits all the time. Someone leaves an item in an aisle and an unwitting shopper stumbles over it.
A slip and fall lawyer will help establish negligence in your lawsuit.
What Kind of Damages Can I Collect in a Slip and Fall Accident Lawsuit?
Slip and fall lawsuits are personal injury or tort claims. If negligence can be established and the other party is found responsible for the accident, then you are entitled to recover any damages that were caused you by their negligence.
Damages can be divided into two categories: economic and non-economic damages.
- Economic damages are damages that are easy to quantify. They include medical expenses, lost wages, and any other expenses related to your injury.
- Non-economic damages are much harder to quantify. They include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, emotional trauma, and the inability to do the things you once enjoyed.
As an example, let’s say that an avid tennis player slips and falls in an icy parking lot. He attempts to break his fall with his hand. In the process, he seriously damages his wrist. He will no longer be able to play tennis for an extended period of time. While that scenario did not take money out of his pocket, it still counts as an injury. It is a serious loss, even if its temporary, and that individual would deserve to be compensated for that loss. Your personal injury lawyer will emphasize the importance of these kinds of losses.
Generally, losses such as these are calculated on a per diem basis. Let’s say in the same scenario the avid tennis player will be rehabbing his wrist for the next six months. The jury would assign some number to his loss per day. Let’s say, ten dollars a day. Six months is roughly 180 days and multiplied by 10 that would equal $1800. Pain and suffering is calculated in much the same way. When there is permanent impairment or disfigurement, settlements and jury verdicts can reach six or seven figures.
Insurance Company’s Defenses to Slip and Fall Claims
Personal injury lawyers present their case to the defendant’s counsel or an insurance company, and the insurance company counters with a plausible defense. Popular plausible defenses in slip and fall lawsuits are:
- The “I could not have known about the dangerous condition defense.” This is very often a very valid defense. For instance, let’s say someone falls off their porch while leaning on a railing. They knew that the railing was dangerous, but they never told the landlord or asked to have the railing fixed. If they had, the could have held the landlord liable for their injury.
- The “The plaintiff was behaving recklessly defense.” This is also a valid defense. If a plaintiff is doing backflips in front of a soda dispenser, then they are at least partially responsible for their injuries.
- The “clear and present danger” defense. The defense can argue that the hazard was so dangerous that any reasonable person exerting the bare minimum of attention would have avoided it. This defense can often reduce a defendant’s liability.
An experienced slip and fall lawyer can show that these defenses are merely pretense.
Our Personal Injury Lawyers Have the Experience and Training to Get Your Case Heard!
Our accident attorneys have experience in dealing with slip and fall cases. We know the law and duty required from proprietors, landlords, and other entities. If you slipped on something that should not have been there — or if you slipped on a poorly maintained thoroughfare — then contact us today for a free evaluation of your case. We will be happy to speak with you and tell you whether you have a cause of action or not.
We Can Help With Your Personal Injury Claim
The ways in which injury occurs through a slip and fall accident are numerous and diverse. Whether at work, store, apartment, or somewhere else due to negligence, slip and fall injury victims need compensation while they recover. That is when the Fielding Law Group’s experienced and hardworking accident lawyers come in.
At Fielding Law Group, we will start working on your case today for FREE! If we don’t win a settlement, you won’t pay a dime. Our team of personal injury attorneys and legal professionals are waiting to help you. The sooner we start working on your case, the quicker we can get you the settlement you deserve.
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Many insurance adjusters work persistently to deny and devalue your legitimate claims. At Fielding Law Group, we ensure justice through the preservation of your rights. We will work diligently to get that settlement you deserve.