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Why Slip and Fall Cases are Difficult to Win

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

Slip and fall accidents are unfortunately common occurrences. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), over 800,000 individuals in the United States are hospitalized annually due to injuries from slips and falls. If you’ve sustained an injury in a slip and fall caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible for compensation, whether or not hospitalization was necessary.

Slip and fall cases are complex, making it challenging to win fair compensation if you are injured. From establishing clear proof of the property owner’s negligence to understanding Michigan’s liability laws, proving fault can be difficult.

However, the right legal team can help you gather evidence and secure the compensation you deserve. Learn why slip and fall cases are difficult to win and how our premises liability attorneys at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. can successfully represent your case.

1. Lack of Clear Liability

Slip and fall cases can be challenging due to the question of liability. This can depend on where you fall, what caused it, how long the hazard existed, and whether the property owner knew about it and took action.

  • Determining liability. Determining who is at fault depends on various factors, such as the location of the fall, the cause, the hazard’s duration, and whether the property owner was aware of it and failed to take appropriate action. For instance, if someone slips and falls in a parking lot, the liability may lie with the property owner, a leasing business, or a maintenance company, depending on the circumstances.
  • Duty of care and breach. To win a slip and fall case, you typically need to show that the property owner (or responsible party) had a duty to keep the area safe and breached this duty. This involves proving that they were aware or should have been aware of the hazard and did not take steps to remedy it.
  • Premises liability laws. These laws require property owners to maintain a safe environment for people on their property. This includes regular inspections and fixing hazards like icy walkways or uneven flooring.
  • Evidence challenges. Proving that a property owner knew about and neglected the hazard requires concrete evidence. Maintenance records, witness statements, and security footage can all be critical in establishing a timeline and proving negligence. However, evidence might not always be readily available, or it might not conclusively prove the owner’s knowledge or neglect.
  • Property owner’s defense. Property owners might argue that they were unaware of the hazard, that the hazard was not there long enough for them to reasonably know about it, or that they took reasonable steps to mitigate the risk but were unsuccessful or the efforts were inadequate.

2. Difficulty in Gathering Evidence

Successful slip and fall claims require strong evidence to establish the property owner’s negligence. The evidence may include surveillance footage showing the fall or hazardous conditions, maintenance records indicating neglect or lack of upkeep, eyewitness testimonies corroborating the incident and conditions, and incident reports filed about the event.

These pieces of evidence can help demonstrate that the property owner was aware of the hazard but failed to address it adequately, leading to the accident. However, acquiring the necessary evidence might be challenging.

  • Surveillance footage. It may not capture the area or moment of the accident, could be of poor quality, or might be deleted or not retained long enough by the property owner.
  • Maintenance records. These may not be readily accessible or transparent, especially if they highlight negligence.
  • Eyewitness testimonies. There may not have been any witnesses, or their accounts may be unclear or unreliable.
  • Incident reports. Property owners may be reluctant to share reports that could be incriminating. This can necessitate legal intervention, such as court orders to preserve or hand over evidence.

Our experienced slip and fall attorneys know how to act quickly to preserve evidence, legally obtain records and footage, and guide the collection of medical records and other documentation to substantiate the fall.

Michigan’s Slip and Fall Cases

3. Comparative Negligence

The principle of comparative negligence makes slip and fall cases difficult to win in Michigan. This legal concept allows both parties to bear some responsibility for the accident in a personal injury claim.

Your percentage of fault, or how much your actions contributed to your injuries, impacts your potential settlement award. Michigan uses modified comparative fault for slip and fall cases – meaning you can’t seek damages if your responsibility is more than 50%.

Here are several ways modified comparative fault complicates securing full compensation in slip and fall cases:

  • You share a small percentage of fault. You slip and fall in a grocery store due to a spill that wasn’t cleaned up. However, you were distracted during the accident because you were texting on your phone. The court assigns you 10% fault. In this scenario, if you win and are awarded a $75,000 settlement, you will only receive $67,500.
  • You are more than 50% at fault. You slip and fall on a sidewalk due to debris a construction company leaves after renovation. Even though they created the hazard, you didn’t see the warning signs posted around the area. The court determines you are 55% responsible for the accident. Under modified comparative fault, you can’t receive compensation unless you can show additional evidence reducing your liability.
  • The property owner is 100% at fault. You stumble over a cracked floor tile in the lobby of an office building. The damage has been present for a while, and the property owner failed to fix it or warn visitors. Given that the accident resulted from the property owner’s neglect to maintain safe premises, they are found at fault. If you didn’t contribute to the accident, the property owner is liable for all your damages in a slip and fall claim.

Our slip and fall lawyers can help you minimize your attributed fault percentage. We will gather and present evidence of the property owner’s liability to demonstrate their responsibility and secure you the financial compensation you are entitled to.

4. The Role of Insurance Companies

Property owners usually maintain liability insurance to cover accidents occurring on their property. After a slip and fall incident, you and your attorney will submit a claim to the property owner’s insurer seeking compensation.

However, resolving this claim can be challenging. To minimize or deny the payout for your injuries, insurance companies may use several of the following tactics:

  • Question the severity of your injuries. To reduce your compensation, adjusters might argue that your injuries are not as serious as claimed, requiring extensive medical evidence to prove otherwise.
  • Argue that your negligence contributed to the accident. The insurance company could claim that you were partly or wholly responsible for the accident, which can reduce or eliminate their liability.
  • Dispute the property owner’s liability. They may argue that the property owner did not have enough time to know about or address the hazard, shifting blame away from the owner.
  • Suggest the injury occurred elsewhere. The insurer may claim that your injuries were pre-existing or happened in a different location unrelated to the property owner’s premises.
  • Offer a quick, lowball settlement. They might offer an immediate but inadequate settlement to avoid a lengthy and costly legal process, tempting you to accept less than you deserve.
  • Delay the claims process. The insurance company may prolong the resolution process, hoping to pressure you into settling for less due to financial strain or frustration.
  • Use statements you make against you. Anything you say, such as “I feel fine,” can be used to downplay their client’s liability or the seriousness of your injury.
  • Use surveillance. They might use this to gather evidence, such as photos from your social media posts, suggesting that your injuries are not as severe as claimed, challenging the validity of your claim.

At Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C., our legal professionals will oversee all correspondence with insurance companies to ensure nothing jeopardizes your claim. With our training and experience in negotiation, we are skilled at recognizing and countering the strategies insurers may use to reduce compensation.

We’ll handle these interactions to protect your rights and maximize your settlement. Rest assured that we will build a strong case articulating the insurer’s legal obligations and your rights.

5. Statute of Limitations

Another obstacle in slip and fall cases is the statute of limitations, which sets a strict time limit for filing a lawsuit. In Michigan, the statute is three years from the accident date for most cases. This time constraint can be challenging for several reasons.

  • Delayed injuries. The complete impact of your injuries from a slip and fall accident might not be immediately evident. Sometimes, it can take weeks or months for all the injuries to manifest, complicating the assessment of the total compensation needed.
  • Limited time to gather evidence. While three years seems like ample time, collecting evidence, like medical records and expert assessments, can take time. Waiting too long to start your case can limit your time to gather evidence. It can also make connecting your injuries to the accident harder if evidence has not been preserved.

How the Right Legal Team Can Help You Win Your Slip and Fall Case

After a slip and fall accident, having the right legal team by your side can be the key to success. Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. has years of experience with Michigan slip and fall law and a track record of winning for our clients.

Here’s how our experienced attorneys can help you maximize your settlement:

  • Thorough investigation. We perform an exhaustive examination of the accident scene to gather critical evidence. We collect surveillance footage that may have captured the incident, interview witnesses for their firsthand accounts, and gather any other relevant information. This helps establish liability and lets us build a strong case on your behalf.
  • Winning legal strategy. Our legal team develops a personalized strategy for each case, considering the unique aspects of your situation. Leveraging our legal expertise, we formulate compelling arguments designed to have an impact in court, making sure to consider every possible aspect to advocate effectively on your behalf.
  • Handling complex laws. Our team possesses extensive knowledge of Michigan’s slip and fall regulations, including comparative negligence laws. We diligently examine how these laws pertain to your situation, striving to reduce your degree of fault.
  • Maximizing compensation. Our goal is to help you maximize your compensation. This includes covering all medical expenses, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering. Eileen Kroll, a partner attorney and registered nurse, will assess your current and future medical needs, ensuring you don’t settle for less than you deserve.
  • Negotiation and litigation. Our expertise in negotiating with insurance companies allows us to secure settlements outside of court. However, we are prepared to bring your case to trial if these negotiations fail to meet your needs. There, we will advocate for your rights, using our litigation experience to achieve the best possible outcome on your behalf.

Work With Our Experienced Lawyers for a Successful Slip and Fall Case

To win a slip and fall case, you need skilled legal representation. Our attorneys at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. have won millions in compensation on behalf of victims injured in Michigan personal injury cases, including slips and falls.

We know what it takes to prove negligence in complex slip and fall claims, and we’ll use our experience to win you the highest possible award for your injuries. Contact us for a free consultation, where we can discuss your case and begin investigating your claim.

Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 1-866-MICH-LAW  and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.

Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Alistair MacDonald holds a bachelor’s degree in History and minors in Classics and Economics from Hamilton College. He writes about complex financial and legal topics, explaining them in a reader-friendly way.

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