Accidents can happen to anyone, whether at home, their property, or another person’s. The result of an accident is usually injuries. But when you sustain painful injuries due to another person’s carelessness (read negligence), what would be your legal rights, and what actions should you take?
Whether you want to pursue an insurance settlement or file a personal injury lawsuit, you will need to prove that the property manager, owner, or government entity responsible for the said property is legally liable for your accident and subsequent injuries. The knowledgeable and experienced slip and fall accident attorneys at Salamati Law Firm in Los Angeles will provide the legal expertise you need to hold those liable for your injuries and obtain the compensation you deserve. Usually, the primary concern regarding liability in slip and fall cases is the identity of the potential at-fault parties, if the said parties were genuinely negligent, and if they deliberately failed to prevent your slip and fall accident.
Another critical element that is always a major cause of dispute between the injured victim and the liable party is the probability of partial negligence. The defendant’s lawyer will mostly argue that you were partly responsible for your injuries due to your carelessness. As such, you must present substantial proof that the defendant is indeed liable for your damages. Additionally, you must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the property owner or manager, or employee of the property owner should know the possible hazardous conditions (potholes, broken sidewalks, etc.) and didn’t do the necessary repair to remove the potential danger. Instead, they failed to fulfill this obligation. The big question is always whether a reasonable person should have detected the potential hazard and identified it as dangerous.
Furthermore, the question would explore if the defendant had sufficient time to remove the danger before the accident happened. Another factor to consider would be if the liable parties deliberately and directly contributed to the hazardous condition by leaving the dangerous obstacle in the way. For instance, if the defendant left a freshly painted floor accessible to the public without closing it off or placing warning signs.
The term “reasonable” is often used in most settlement negotiations and at different phases of slip and fall cases. That’s because, for one to be deemed negligent and ultimately liable for injuries and other damages in a slip and fall case, a property owner or manager (or the owner’s employee) must have failed to act prudently or reasonably under the prevailing circumstances.
As such, their failure resulted in the accident. When trying to establish whether or not the defendant acted reasonably, the plaintiff’s slip and fall lawyer should consider these instances:
Did the dangerous obstacle or condition last long enough that had the defendant acted reasonably, they would have prevented the hazard from harming the plaintiff? Did the liable party have a policy of fulfilling their mandate to keep the premises safe? If so, do they have a record of regular checkups and maintenance of the property? Could there be a record somewhere that points to the actions taken before and after the accident?
Your slip and fall lawyer will assess whether there was a good reason why the potential hazard existed in the first place and if the threat could have been prevented by placing signages, closing off the area, etc.
Proving Lack Of Comparative Negligence
Most homeowners insurance policies also cover slip and fall accidents. Suppose the liable party was a homeowner. The slip and fall accident that occurred at the defendant’s home, together with their lawyer/insurance providers, may argue that you were partly to blame for the accident and, ultimately, your injuries. This argument is known in legal terms as comparative fault, comparative negligence, or contributory negligence. Under comparative negligence, the rule is that the plaintiff’s ability to receive compensation for their injuries will be significantly affected if it is established that they are partly responsible for their accident.
Most states apply the concept of contributory negligence rules. If found to be partially responsible, you could be barred from recovering any compensation. Under these laws, an injured victim’s damages award will be slashed according to the percentage equal to their share of responsibility. For instance, if your damages were worth $60,000 and you were found to be 10 percent at fault for your accident and injuries, you would be legally entitled to collect $54,000 of a $60,000 damages award. However, this is the standard procedure for most states, although the rules vary by state. To determine whether you might be on the receiving end of the law for causing any small part of your slip and fall accident, consider whether you engaged in any activity or conduct that prevented you from noticing the potential hazard. For instance, you may have been engrossed on your phone (chatting, texting, browsing, listening to an iPod) while walking toward the dangerous obstacle when a reasonable person would have done otherwise.
Another point to consider is whether you had any legal right to be at that particular place at that specific time when you skipped and fell if you had any legal reasons to be at the location of the accident. Both your slip and fall lawyer and the defendant’s lawyer will explore whether there were proper warning signs and other safety measures taken to ensure no one could access the dangerous area when the accident occurred and if the plaintiff saw and ignored these measures. If the defendant’s attorney could prove that you contributed to your accident through carelessness or negligence, winning the case will be difficult.
Other Factored You Need To Consider
Before you file a personal injury claim or lawsuit after a slip and fall accident, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with the basics of premise liability. This will help you understand the legal concepts about proving liability and negligence and the contributory fault laws. Only then can you file a case you can be sure you will win. And if you’d rather take this up with a slip and fall lawyer, do some due diligence to ensure you work with a competent and experienced legal representative.