A slip and fall accident can result from a number of different dangerous circumstances, ranging from spills on floors to broken stairs to ice and snow. Most of the time, a slip and fall can be traced to a single act of negligence, or the failure to repair or warn visitors about existing hazards or defects.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall, it is important that you understand the contributing factors in these accidents and how each one may have led to your injuries.
The following is a closer look at what we call the “three ingredients of a slip and fall accident:
Shoes often are at the heart of a slip and fall. This is because a person’s shoes are in direct contact with the ground. Immediately following a slip and fall accident, you should place the shoes that you were wearing in a bag and refrain from wearing them again until any legal claim that you pursue against the property owner or occupier is resolved. Your shoes may be used as evidence in the case.
Shoes should be reasonably safe. If a shoe is defective, it may increase the risk of a slip and fall. Shoes that have good tread and a steady base may be a key part in reducing the number of slip and fall accidents.
If a shoe is defective, the manufacturer of the shoe may be liable in a product liability claim.
Unfortunately, shoes may also be used to blame a slip and fall victim for an accident and avoid liability. For example, if the victim was wearing high heels at the time of the accident and slipped and fell on ice or snow, the property owner or occupier may argue that the shoes were not appropriate for the circumstances, and thus, the victim contributed to the accident by failing to make a reasonable choice.
While shoes sometimes play a role in the occurrence of a slip and fall accident, the surface where the slip and fall occurred is usually where the real fault for the accident lies.
For this reason, it is essential that you photograph the surface of your slip and fall accident and document any existing hazards that may have been present.
Common floor hazards that contribute to slip and fall injuries include:
- Spills of food, liquids or other substances
- Torn carpet
- Lack of handrails
- Snow and ice
- Broken stairs
- Holes or defects in floors
- Objects left in areas where there is typically heavy foot traffic.
If a hazard on the floor existed, and this hazard caused the slip and fall accident that harmed you, then you may be able to hold the owner or occupier of the property liable for your injuries. Typically, you must prove that the property owner or occupier knew or should have known of the hazard and failed to correct it or warn visitors about it.
When you pursue compensation for the injuries you suffer in a slip and fall, you typically will file a claim with through the property owner’s commercial liability or homeowners’ insurance policy.
The insurance company often will look at the person involved in the slip and fall and look for ways to establish that the person did something negligent to contribute to the slip and fall injury like wearing inappropriate footwear or failing to look where he or she was walking.
By pinning blame for the accident on you, the victim, the insurance company can reduce or eliminate the amount it may have to pay out in a claim.
The defense will interview witnesses and check any existing video footage to determine whether a victim’s negligence played a role.
Examples of fault of the victim that could reduce the amount of damages that you could recover include:
- Running rather than walking
- Entering prohibited areas
- Climbing over barriers
- Walking while distracted.
Even if you were doing something that contributed to your injuries, however, you may still be able to prove that the property owner was primarily negligent, and thus, should be held liable for your injuries.
What Do I Have to Prove to Recover Compensation for My Injuries?
In order to recover compensation for your injuries after a slip and fall accident, it is important to know the ingredients of a legal claim. Those ingredients are:
- Existence of a duty of care. In other words, the property owner or occupier owed a duty to you to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition.
- Breach of the duty of care. The property owner or occupier failed to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition. For example, if the property owner knew that stairs on the property were broken but failed to repair the stairs or place a sign warning visitors about the hazard, then the property owner violated a duty to visitors to the property.
- Damages from the slip and fall. Finally, you must prove that you suffered actual injuries from your slip and fall accident, including physical, mental and financial harm.
How a Lawyer Can Help with Your Slip and Fall Case
After a slip and fall, the thing that you are most concerned about will be how to address your injuries. While you focus on your physical recovery, a lawyer can take care of all legal aspects of your situation, including investigating your case and pursuing all available options for obtaining compensation.
When you are ready to act, contact Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C. An experienced slip and fall injury attorney from our firm can lead you through the process of pursuing any and all compensation that you deserve.