Slip and fall accidents are common, but that doesn’t make them any less of a problem. This is especially true when the accident leaves you with devastating injuries like a broken leg or arm, dislocated shoulder, knee damage, broken bones or even traumatic brain injury. Slip and falls are also known to cause deaths.
So, if you slipped and fell in a store, and have reason to believe that the accident would have been prevented were it not for the negligence or careless actions (or inactions) of the responsible party, then you can sue. In this case, you’ll only need to demonstrate that the liable party – landlord, manager or tenant – had a duty to protect store users, and they breached that duty and you were hurt because of their actions or inactions. If you are successful, you will get compensation for:
- All your present and future medical expenses that you incur, including transport costs for your therapy and medical care
- Your present and future lost wages if the injury keeps you from working
- Loss of consortium or damage to your relationship with family or spouse
Pain and suffering
You can also get compensation if you had a pre-existing condition that worsened due to the slip and fall. Centers for Disease Control notes that these accidents are critical in adults above the age of 65. According to their survey, 1:3 older Americans fall every year, with 20-30% of them suffering from mild to severe injuries that make it challenging to live or get around independently. Sometimes, the accident can even lead to their death.
To hold another person responsible for your injuries, you must prove that the property owner (or the person in charge) should have noticed the hazard (poor lighting, wet floor, uneven walking surface), and fixed or removed it, but they did not do it. The focus will be on whether a reasonable person would have recognized the situation as dangerous and if the liable person had a chance to fix the problem before the accident happened. OR
The defendant actually caused the hazard that led to a slip and fall – like leaving an obstacle on a walking path – reasonably knowing it could result in an accident.
Property owner’s duty
Store owners (or those in charge) are expected to take responsible steps to make sure their store is void of hazardous situations that could lead to slip and fall. Note that “reasonableness” is weighed against the care that you should have used. Courts and insurance companies use the following guidelines when establishing fault:
- Did the obstacle or dangerous situation exit long enough that the defendant could have acted to fix the hazard?
- Did the defendant have a system in place that ensures constant assessment for potential dangers in the store, and if they did, can they provide a record or log showing the procedure was done immediately before the incident?
- Was there any just reason why the potential hazard existed in the first place and did the reason still apply at the time of the accident?
- Could preventative measures like placing enough warning signs or moving the hazard or installing handrails lessen the dangerous situation or prevent access to the location?
- Did the slip and fall happen due to poor visibility or poor lighting?
If you have a valid negligence claim, you’ll need to determine the type of damages for which your claim will seek compensation including lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering among others.