Slip and fall and trip and fall injuries are among the most common personal injury claims. However, not every slip and fall or trip and fall will result in compensation. In order to recover damages, you have to prove that the person/owner/manager of the location of the fall was negligent thus causing the injury.
In any personal injury case, there is a precise legal definition of negligence. It means that someone acted unreasonably under the circumstances. Unreasonable is a shifting definition that depends on your specific type of case. Every personal injury claim will strive to show what an average person would have done and compare it to what the person or entity actually did in your case. The average person is generally considered to be safety conscious but not necessarily fanatical about eliminating any possibility of an accident on the property. Specifically, you have to show that there was a dangerous condition, and the dangerous condition was a result of the negligence of the person or entity you are holding as being responsible.
When is a Person and/or Entity Negligent
The property owner or entity is not responsible for guaranteeing everyone’s safety on their property. The duty of care in any slip and fall or trip and fall case is not to prevent accidents entirely and guarantee the absolute safety of everyone at all times. Instead, it is to act the same as any reasonable property owner or entity would.
For slip and fall and trip and fall cases, there are several key questions that would decide whether someone else should pay for your injuries:
- Who caused the dangerous condition on the property? Was it a passerby, owner, or employee that created the dangerous condition?
- Did the property owner, employee, or manager know about the dangerous condition, or should they have known about it?
With regard to the first question, the property owner will be considered negligent if they themselves caused the dangerous condition. For example, if they left dangerous equipment on a walkway, and you tripped and fell on it, they would be responsible. If the employee of the owner spilled the water or failed to get the leaking refrigerator fixed, and you slipped on the water, they would be responsible. These a more straightforward types of slip and fall and trip and fall cases. However, it is not always easy to prove that the owner caused the condition, as opposed to someone else. Many times you may not even know initially, and it would require further investigation.
What Did the Property Owner Know, and When Did They Know About It?
The more complicated question is when someone or something else caused the dangerous condition. The property owner still has an obligation to clean up or fix the dangerous conditions. However, they do not have to fix everything instantaneously. They are allowed a reasonable amount of time to clear up the problem. One classic example of this is the grocery store spill. If someone else drops a bottle, and it causes a slippery floor, the store owner does not need to clean up the spill or put a wet floor sign down the instant that it happens, if they do not know about it.
With this type of claim, the focus is on what is a reasonable time to clean up the problem. Even if the property owner does not actually know about the dangerous condition, the law will presume that they do know after a certain period of time. In other words, they cannot pretend that they heard and saw nothing.
In addition, a slip and fall and trip and fall claim would also focus on what are reasonable measures to fix problems. Presumably, the owner would need to inspect their own property and address issues that they find. The question is how far they need to go to ensure safety on their property.
What Could Determine Negligence in Your Slip and Fall or Trip and Fall Case
If your case goes to court, the jury will look at the specific facts of your own situation. The same exact fall may be negligence in one setting but not negligence in another. Whether the owner was negligent could depend on things like the following:
- Who created the dangerous condition
- Whether or not the owner or entity knew of the dangerous condition, could have found out about the dangerous condition, or should have known about the dangerous condition
- How often the owner inspect the property
- Whether the owner could have warned the public about the condition
- The expense and inconvenience to the owner of fixing the condition
- The lighting in the area at the time of the accident
How to Prove Negligence in Your Slip and Fall Case
Regardless of the answers to these questions, your claim is only as strong as the proof behind it. While you may have your own side of the story, the question is not what happened but the evidence that you have. The insurance company or property owner will certainly not issue a check just based on a claimant’s word. Even if your claim is valid, insurance companies are not in the business of willingly writing checks. Your lawyer could use the following to prove your claim:
- Eyewitness evidence from people who saw the fall
- Video camera footage
- Pictures from the scene of the fall
- Maintenance logs that show when the property was inspected
Finally, the owner’s negligence is always looked at in tandem with your potential fault. If you are more to blame for your injury than the owner, you may not be able to recover compensation for the accident. The insurance company will invariably try to blame you for what happened. They will point the finger at you as a way of getting off the hook for paying for their policyholder’s carelessness. This is their own self-defense mechanism to avoid writing checks. Not only will you need to prove what the property owner did or did not do, but you will also need to defend your own actions.
Call a Southern California Slip and Fall Attorney
Insurance companies will make your life difficult in a slip and fall claim. If you try to proceed on your own, you may end up with nothing. Time is of the essence after your fall, and one of the first things that you should do is call an attorney. At The Arshakyan Law Firm, we are experienced personal injury lawyers with a track record of helping our clients recover compensation for the negligence of others. Call us today at (888) 851-5005 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation.