How to Prove Negligence in Slip and Fall Cases?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
When you have a slip and fall accident, it may only cause some minor injuries. But in some cases, a slip and fall can cause far more serious personal injury. When that does happen, you may have to take prolonged time off work and lose wages. This can lead to financial stress and worry. And it is not only about financial issues, the pain and suffering caused by a slip and fall injury can have other effects on your day-to-day life.
You will want to know who is responsible for your injuries. Was it caused by one person’s negligence or is there premises liability? Knowing what you have to do is essential before making any claim.
There are three questions you have to consider before moving forward:
- If there is any liability, who would be the liable party? Is it an individual (such as a private homeowner) or is it a business or company?
- Do you suspect negligence led to the incident? This could include factors such as a business not signposting a wet and slippery floor area.
- Did your carelessness in any way contribute to the accident? This is something the defendant’s lawyers will try and focus on.
What Sort of Liability Exists in These Cases?
Under what circumstances can we hold someone responsible for our slip and fall injuries?
- Where someone – and that person could be the property owner, the leaseholder of that property, or an employee of a business with specific responsibilities – should have noticed the risk posed, such as by a slippery surface, a worn carpet, or a pothole or damaged surface, and taken steps to repair said hazard or to have highlighted it to avoid incidents. What can be central to this argument is whether that person had an opportunity to notice the hazard and deal with it in a timely manner.
- Where someone actually caused the hazard through carelessness. This could be if someone left something on a normal thoroughfare where pedestrians or customers would not expect to find such a hazard.
How Do We Prove Negligence and Liability?
How do we set about actually proving negligence and liability? One word you will hear a lot, both from your slip and fall attorney and from any insurance companies involved in the case, is “reasonable.” By this, the court wants to see that the defendant did not act in a reasonable manner in regards to the hazard that led to the injury claim. A few of the things the court will consider include:
- Was there an established routine for checking for potential problems or hazards? While this is usually applicable to businesses, it can be extended to private property too. And if there was a routine, is there any record of the checks done? If there is, this can establish whether someone identified the hazard but no action was taken.
- Was the hazard in place for a significant period of time? Enough time that it would be reasonable to expect action to be taken to rectify the issue?
- Was there any justifiable reason for the hazard to be there? For example, cables trailing across a pathway to enable workmen to access power. And if there was a justifiable reason, did it exist at the time of the incident? Using the same example, were the workmen actually working at the time of the incident or had they left but the cables were still in place?
- Was there any way of reducing the risk factor of the hazard? For example, placing adequate signage of a wet and slippery floor? Or placing temporary lights in an area where there was poor lighting.
Comparative negligence is when the court considers that the victim played some part in the incident. It’s called this as the court will compare the levels of negligence between plaintiff and defendant. To give an example, someone buys a new rope to go rock climbing. They notice the rope is slightly frayed but they decide to use it anyway. They end up falling a considerable height and suffer severe injuries. The court decides that the climber is partly to blame.
The important thing to know about comparative negligence is that if the court decides that the plaintiff is 50% or more to blame, they will not receive any damages. If the court decides that the plaintiff is 40% to blame, then the plaintiff will receive 60% of the award.
Comparative negligence will not be considered until the court decides that the defendant was negligent. Only then will they look at whether the plaintiff played any part.
Slip and fall cases may sound relatively minor but they can often have serious consequences. Costs can soon mount up, including medical bills and lost wages. Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. is one of the leading law firms in Michigan dealing with personal injury cases. We thoroughly investigate every case to prove liability and negligence.
We offer a free initial consultation to allow us to evaluate your case and provide legal guidance. This appointment also allows you to ask any relevant questions. If you would like to schedule a free appointment, please call us today at 866-MICH-LAW.
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.