Many people who are involved in a slip and fall in a store often ask whether they are entitled to damages. The short answer is, if you slipped and fell in a store and can prove that the responsible party did something wrong that resulted in your fall, you may be eligible for damages.
Think of it this way. If a visitor comes to your home and ends up tripping and falling over their own two feet, they wouldn’t be entitled to damages because he or she fell over their own two feet. However, if you left a cable on the hallway and didn’t inform them about it, and they trip and fall and end up hurting, then they can have a claim against you for all the resulting losses. The same applies when you slip and fall in a store. If the owner did something wrong or if they were aware of a problem that they should have fixed long before the accident, you may have a claim for the incident.
But to win a slip and fall case, you’ll need to prove that the responsible person– whether it’s the property owner, business owner, or manager – failed to maintain their store in a reasonably safe condition for your benefit. Better yet, you must prove that they were unable to warn you about the dangerous situation that through reasonable maintenance or inspection, would be identified. So, when you slip and fall in a store, the claim is against the defendant for one of these two breaches of legal duty.
There isn’t a cut and dried way of determining when the store or premise owner is legally liable for your injuries if you fall. Every case is based on whether you were careless in not preventing or seeing the condition that led to your fall, or the defendant acted carefully that the accident wasn’t likely to happen. You will need to prove that a hazardous situation caused the slip and fall, and the defendant was aware of the danger but did nothing about it.
Note that the hazard must pose an unreasonable risk to you, and be the condition that you shouldn’t have expected under the circumstances. To prove that the defendant was aware of the hazard, you must demonstrate that he or she:
- Created the condition
- Was aware of the situation, but negligently failed to fix it
- Had enough time to discover and correct the condition before the accident
As mentioned above, it could be possible that your own carelessness contributed to the incident. That’s why the law uses “comparative negligence” to determine your reasonableness in the unfolding of events. Here are some few things that the defendant’s insurer will want to know:
- Whether you had a legit reason – one that the defendant should have foreseen – to be where the hazard condition was
- If a reasonable individual would have realized and avoided the hazard, or been more careful to avoid an accident
- If there were any warning signs at the dangerous spot
- Whether you were distracted or were jumping, running or playing around in a manner that increased your chances of falling
Important issues in slip and fall cases
As mentioned earlier, negligence needs to exist to win a slip and fall case. That’s why the insurance company – and the jury if your claim makes it to court – will want to get to the bottom of your accident. The essential aspects affecting negligence arising from a slippery floor case include the following:
- Was the floor unreasonably wet?
- Why was the floor slippery?
- Did a foreign substance – like spilled water or oil – make the floor slippery? And if so, how long was it on the floor prior to your fall?
- Did any warning sign alert you of the slippery condition of the floor?
- Was the landlord or store owner (or the person in charge) aware of the condition – or were they supposed to reasonably know – that the flow was slippery?
Strong supporting evidence is a pillar to a successful claim. In a slip and fall lawsuit, a few critical pieces of evidence to present include medical records and bills, documentation and witness statements. If you can collect and present some or all of these kinds of evidence, you can build a strong slip and fall lawsuit. It can be beneficial to work with a lawyer to enhance the likelihood of receiving the full compensation you deserve.
To recover for damages sustained after you slipped and fell in a store, you must identify the liable party whose carelessness or negligence resulted in the injury. Consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer can be a great way to determine this. As you may realize, the responsible party could be the property owner, store owner, store manager, or even you. A lawyer will analyze all the facts and advise you on the best course of legal action to take.