You make your way into the store with a Christmas list in hand and a Christmas song in your heart, ready to paint the town green. But your jolly journey takes a tragic twist as you slip on a puddle of water on the floor and fall. As pain reverberates through your body, a single thought should enter your head: “Only slip and fall lawyers can help me now.”
Statistics show that falls make up more than eight million visits to the ER and thus are the primary reason for ER visits — at 21.3%. Slip and fall incidents make up a little more than a million ER visits — 12% of this total.
Unfortunately, an accident that happens in a split second may lead to overwhelming medical bills depending on the nature of the fall. You may even have to miss days from work, which only adds salt to the proverbial wound.
Fortunately, attorneys may help you to hold an at-fault property owner accountable through a lawsuit.
Here’s a rundown on how lawyers can help to determine if a property owner is responsible for your injuries.
Let’s get started!
Slip and Fall Lawyers: Proving Negligence is Necessary
In some cases, a property owner might intentionally try to harm a visitor, but these cases are rare.
Most of the time, you will have to prove negligence if you want to win your accident case. Negligence means the owner of the property where you hurt yourself did not act reasonably considering the circumstances.
For instance, a reasonable store owner would set up warning signs in an area that has just been mopped. If he or she fails to do this and you slip and hurt yourself on the floor, the store owner might be financially responsible — or liable — for the harm you suffer.
The owner of the property has a legal duty to provide a safe area for you to traverse. This includes disclosing every unreasonably hazardous condition he or she knows about or should know about. It also means remedying any dangerous situation he or she notices.
What Did the Owner of the Property Know?
This is the most important question slip and fall lawyers will ask when investigating this type of accident case on your behalf.
After all, whether somebody behaved in a negligent manner depends on what he or she knew.
One defense that a property owner may use against you is to assert that you knew about the dangerous condition when you slipped and fell. If you were aware of the danger on the floor when you fell, then the store owner may not be held liable for your injury.
Another defense that might come into play is that the dangerous floor was open and obvious for all to see this risk. In this situation, the store owner does not have to warn you about it or address it.
Finding out what the owner of the property knew is your legal right. And it’s possible via a procedure known as discovery.
During this procedure, the property owner may have to submit items such as surveillance video, repair logs, and even maintenance records.
Lawyers can also conduct depositions with the property owner at their office locations. During a deposition, the owner will answer the attorney’s questions about the incident, and the answers will be recorded.
In addition to peeking into the store owner’s mind, you can also find out what witnesses saw at the time of your accident.
Slip and fall lawyers can conduct depositions with witnesses, too, to get an idea of what they plan to say at trial.
These testimonies are important because they give both sides an idea of how much the owner of the property was at fault in your accident.
This may serve as a foundation for settlement negotiations if you decide this is the best way to resolve the issue versus going to trial.
What You Have to Prove at Trial
To win your case at trial, you’ll have to prove one of three things:
The first is that the owner of the property should have realized that the puddle of water was covering the floor when you fell.
The second is that this person was aware of the puddle but didn’t take the necessary steps to clean it up.
The third is that the owner of the property caused the water to collect on the store’s floor.
Let’s say the owner of the property is at fault in your accident. This doesn’t mean you won’t assume some responsibility for the fall, too.
This is based on a concept known as comparative negligence. It means if you contributed to the accident somehow, your monetary award might be decreased by an amount reflecting how at fault you were.
A jury or judge will determine this percentage reduction.
A few questions to ask yourself are:
- Were you texting while heading into the store? In other words, were you distracted?
- Wasn’t there a warning sign in the area where you fell?
- Would someone else in your shoes have avoided the situation altogether?
- Were you not paying a reasonable amount of attention to your environment?
The answers to such questions may help you to estimate your likelihood of being found comparatively negligent.
How We Can Help
We offer help with these types of cases, which can be challenging to win without a proper understanding of the law.
The right slip and fall lawyers will help you recover the monetary damages you have sustained in your accident.
That means even though you can’t undo the accident or its ill effects, you can cover your loss of wages due to not being able to work for a time. You can also cover your medical bills associated with your injuries.
Monetary compensation can also help with addressing emotional distress that your accident caused.
Contact us to find out more about how we can help you to fight for justice following an injury-causing incident.