How a slip and fall law firm can get you the compensation you deserve.
A slip and fall can happen at any time for the most mundane of reasons. For example, a jar of spaghetti sauce that has spilled on the floor of your local supermarket can be problematic. Or a crack in the sidewalk of the route you take to work every day that causes you to stumble. Even the piece of carpet that’s unraveled and in your path.
Millions of people fall every day, and we think nothing of it. But, sometimes, those falls lead to serious injuries like broken bones, concussions or traumatic brain injury. Who is responsible when a slip and fall occurs? What if the medical bills start to pile up? An injury from a slip and fall can totally disrupt a person’s life. By its definition, a slip and fall (sometimes known as a trip and fall accident) is a type of personal injury case based on the idea of someone falling because of the negligence of another. Meaning, someone created a dangerous condition that made it a possibility that someone would fall and hurt themselves.
If you or a loved one has experienced a fall or trip on someone else’s property, our slip and fall lawyers can assist you! Let us review your case at no risk to you; our experienced legal team will see if you have a case or claim, and help you get the compensation you deserve for your injury!
Slip and Fall Liability: Who Is Responsible When You Fall?
When an accident happens, we want someone to blame, especially if there has been some degree of pain and suffering. Sometimes it’s pretty clear who is responsible for an accident. For example, a construction company allows a burnt lightbulb to go unchanged inside scaffolding on the street, causing someone to trip and fall in the darkness and break an arm on the sidewalk. In a case like that, it seems clear that the responsibility for the accident would lay with the company that created an unsafe environment. But what about cases that are less clear? A child trespassing an abandoned building falls on a piece of scrap metal lying in her path; who is to blame?
Experienced slip and fall lawyers understand the subtle nuances of proving liability. This is where the idea of “premises liability” comes into play. Premises liability states that someone must be held accountable for the things that happen on the property he or she owns or is responsible for. To win a case of premises liability, the person who was injured has to prove that the person responsible for the property on which they were injured was negligent or failed to use reasonable care to maintain conditions that would keep someone safe.
As individuals, we have a “duty of care” to each other. This describes the legal obligation that we have to each other to adhere to standards of reasonable care that prevent us from harming each other. How is this relevant in cases of slip and fall? To prove your case and receive a settlement, an injured party needs to prove that duty of care has been breached.
The degree of “care” we are obligated to provide to each other is defined by the relationship a visitor has to the premises where their injury occurred.
Visitors are normally divided into three categories.
Invitees: these are people who are expressly welcomed and invited on the landowner’s property. This might include friends, family, neighbors or patrons of a business.
Licensees: this is someone who has the permission of the landowner to be there but is on the property for his or her own purposes or benefit. An example of this might be a salesperson.
Trespassers: this person is someone who is not authorized to be on the property, with the exception of children.
The closer the relationship one has to the premises, the greater the duty of care involved. For example, if you are invited to a friend’s house and trip over a broken floorboard, the duty of care is far more intense than if you were to hurt yourself while trespassing on clearly marked “do not enter” land.
What Defendants Need to Prove in Slip and Fall Cases
If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, your first inclination may be to hold them responsible. That fall outside the grocery store on wet cement may have really messed up your back! It’s important to keep in mind, however, that the responsibility for every slip and fall doesn’t necessarily lay with the property owner. You may have had some part to play in the accident, perhaps by being careless; this is called “comparative negligence.”
To win your slip and fall case, you need to prove that negligence has occurred and that your accident was a direct result of this negligence. Where is the line between what is “normal” and what was negligent? For example, is it reasonable to expect that the sidewalk in front of a supermarket might be wet? Especially when you consider that the ground sometimes gets rinsed off after load-in of produce and boxes has occurred? Or, is wet ground the result of a negligent act? This can be a tricky line to walk. In cases of slip and fall, it is helpful to have an experienced lawyer to help prove your case! Bill Green understands that the successful determination of liability makes all the difference in winning your case!
Your case depends upon determining two things. First, was the property owner careless in his or her actions? Second, were you careless in yours? It sounds simple but can be a pretty gray area. To prove liability, one of the below must be true:
The owner or a representative of the owner (like an employee) must have caused the condition for your accident. For example, the employee must have caused the wet spot, slippery surface, broken floor or surface that causes someone’s fall.
The owner or their representative had to know about the “potential danger” but did nothing to address or fix it.
The owner or their representative should have known about the “potential danger” because anyone that was “reasonable” and in the same position would have already seen, fixed or repaired the danger.
This is where the seemingly simple idea of common sense comes into play. It is up to your attorney to prove the property owners lack of “reasonableness” in keeping the property safe and clean.
How Your Own Carelessness Affects Slip and Fall Settlements
The state of South Carolina follows the doctrine of “modified comparative negligence” for personal injury cases. This means that a claimant contributing to the negligence of his or her accident does not stop them from winning compensation. In order words, as long as the part that you played in the accident is not greater than the part that the defendant contributed to the accident, you can still recover damages. However, your compensation is reduced based on how much a claimant contributed to their own accident.
As a practical example, imagine tripping over a box left on the floor of a grocery store isle. It was clearly left behind after someone was loading food onto the shelves… someone trips and falls over this, throwing his or her back out pretty badly. The case goes to trial, during which the defendant points out that the injured person was using their cell phone right before the accident occurred; they say they are not wholly responsible for the fall. In this example, a jury may agree. If they did, they might determine what percentage of the blame lies with the claimant. They would then subtract that percentage of responsibility from the financial compensation. So, if the claimant is deemed to be 10-percent responsible for their own injury and the awards amount was $10,000, then the injured claimant would receive $9,000.
How a Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer Can Help You
As we’ve illustrated, slip and fall cases can often be a matter of interpretation. Who is really responsible? Should things have been different? There’s an awful lot of room for gray… which is where a slip and fall attorney can help you! While most businesses carry premises liability insurance, sometimes a sustained injury may require more money than coverage allows for. Also, most insurance companies will work their hardest to injured parties as little as possible!
A slip and fall lawyer will represent YOUR best interests after an accident occurs. They will help you get the money you deserve for your injury, pain, and suffering. An accident attorney will help you by:
- reviewing your accident;
- securing and interviewing witnesses for statements before they forget what they saw;
- reviewing all medical records;
- securing all evidence on the premises before it disappears; and
assuring you meet all necessary deadlines for filing your claim.
An experienced slip and fall lawyer will diligently work to prove your case as needed! If it goes to court, we will assure you have the strongest case possible. We understand the subtle nuances in proving negligence and how much your life can be disrupted after an accident occurs. Call us toll free today at 888-800-2455 for a 100-percent risk-free assessment of your case!