Proving Fault in a Slip & Fall Injury

3 Critical Questions

Slip and fall accidents can result in broken bones, spinal trauma and head injuries, leaving you liable for expensive medical treatments. If the fall occurred on someone else's property, though, the liability may not be yours at all.

The property owner's insurance may cover your injuries automatically, or you may need to hire a personal injury attorney to assist with your claim.

Everyone has heard the stories of someone slipping in full view of a “caution: wet floor” sign at a business and attempting to obtain restitution. These cases don't hold much traction with insurance companies, even in the hands of the best personal injury attorney.

Can you prove liability after a slip and fall accident?

The law defines specific incidents where an owner is responsible for a fall that occurs on his property. To prove a property owner liable for your injuries, you must present evidence showing that either an employee or the owner himself:

  • Was aware of a potential hazard but took no action
  • Should have been aware of a potential hazard because an area posed an obvious risk
  • Was directly responsible for your injury by creating a dangerous walking surface through spilling liquids, failing to maintain worn or damaged flooring, or other means

Since falls happen through the normal course of events, proving liability can be tricky. You may consider hiring a personal injury attorney after a slip and fall injury. These lawyers know what questions to ask and what type of evidence is needed to prove your claim of negligence.

Could you be at fault for your injury?

Proving the property owner was responsible for your fall involves proving yourself blameless. The law considers all legal adults to be accountable for personal safety in most situations. The “wet floor” sign stories exemplify this, because adults should be able to read and follow such warnings.

In addition to heeding posted warnings, verify a few more points before proceeding with a personal injury claim

  • Confirm that you were moving conscientiously and not skipping, jumping or being otherwise careless.
  • Make sure you exercised due care in observing where you were walking.
  • Be certain you were not trespassing or in a restricted area.

Did the property owner take reasonable steps to ensure your safety?

If you are certain you could not have avoided the fall, you next need to prove that the property owner could have prevented it. Proving this may work a little differently depending on whether your injury was a slip and fall or trip and fall.

In cases of tripping, you should ask:

  • Was the item I tripped over intended to be there, and should I have been aware of it?
  • Did I trip over flooring that was poorly installed or maintained?
  • Could the item I tripped over have reasonably been kept in a safer location?

For both trips and slips, ask:

  • Should a warning have been posted regarding the potential danger?
  • Did the area have sufficient lighting to prevent such accidents?

If you feel certain that the property owner was at fault for your fall, file a personal injury claim with the property owner's insurance company. If you don't get resolution from this action, you may need to proceed with the help of a personal injury attorney.

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