Groups » Have a Slip-and-Fall Case? Proving Fault Can Be Challenging

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), slip-and-falls account for 15 percent of all accidental deaths in the United States and are the second major cause of fatalities after motor vehicles. Private-sector employees reported nearly three million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2014.

Further, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reveals that floors and flooring materials contribute directly to over two million slip-and-fall injuries each year. Slip-and-falls lead to serious injuries, which can often be catastrophic in nature. For instance, a woman (name withheld) fell on her back when she slipped on black ice that had formed on the walkway of her boyfriend’s condominium. Upon investigation, the lawyer (hired by the plaintiff) found that the condominium association was in the process of replacing faulty gutters, but the specific building where the incident took place didn’t get the gutters replaced. A slip-and-fall lawsuit was filed and the woman won compensation of $170,000.

If you or a loved one have been injured due to slip-and-fall on someone else’s premises due to their negligence, you can file a case and get compensated for the damages and injuries. However, you need to know when a case can be filed and how to prove fault.

When You Can File a Slip-and-Fall Case

‘Slip and fall’ is a term used for personal injury cases, where an individual slip or trips and gets injured on someone else's property. Slip-and-fall cases fall under ‘premises liability’ claims. The resulting injuries can be severe and can include:

Broken bones

Soft tissue damage

Spinal cord injuries

Traumatic brain injuries

However, not all slip-and-fall victims are eligible for compensation. This is because many people slip or fall due to their own mistakes and not because the owner of the premises was negligent. In order to file a slip-and-fall case, you should be able to establish one of the following:

The property owner or employees should have known about the dangerous condition and risks involved because any other ‘reasonable’ person in his/her position would have known about the condition and fixed it.

The property owner or employees created the dangerous condition (broken floors, spills, etc.).

The property owner or employees knew about the dangerous condition but did not get it fixed or do anything to prevent the accident.

Proving fault in slip-and-fall cases can be very difficult, which is why you should speak to a lawyer experienced in representing such cases.

Proving Fault in Slip-and-Fall Cases

The most difficult part of dealing with a slip-and-fall case is demonstrating that the owner of the property was negligent and failed to prevent the slipping or tripping and that you were not careless in seeing or avoiding the dangerous condition. In order to prove fault, you need to prove the four elements of personal injury claim:

Duty

Breach of duty

Causation

Injury

The defendant (or the property owner in this case) must have a legal duty to prevent predictable harm to another individual. This means he or she should ensure the proper upkeep of the property and fix damages immediately to ensure no harm is done to another person.

Once the duty is established, the plaintiff (the injured person) will need to prove ‘breach of duty.’ He/she will have to prove that the property owner failed to maintain the property or overlooked dangerous conditions. In causation, the plaintiff must prove that the property owner’s negligence led to the injuries and that he/she did not slip or fall due to his/her own fault. Lastly, the plaintiff will need to prove that his/her injuries occurred due to slipping and tripping. In such cases, the injuries are mostly physical in nature; so one can produce pictures of the injury and reports from the doctor.

Remember, the defendant will try to prove that the plaintiff was at fault and the injuries occurred due to the plaintiff’s own mistakes. So, work with your lawyer and gather enough evidence to strengthen your case.

The consequences of slip and fall can be serious, which is why you need to act fast if you believe you suffered due to someone else’s negligence. However, unlike other personal injury cases, proving fault in slip-and-fall cases can be difficult. It is, therefore, recommended that you work with an experienced lawyer who can help you collect evidence and file a strong case. Apart from proving fault, you also need to prove that you were not at fault and you didn’t cause the accident. If you’ve been injured in a slip-and-fall incident, discuss your case with a lawyer to understand whether or not it will be worthwhile to file a case.

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