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How Can I Prove Fault in a Slip and Fall Accident?

While there are clear parties to blame in many other areas of law, slip and fall cases can be tough to prove. Every year, thousands are injured in Fort Lauderdale slip and fall events whether it’s falling downstairs, slipping on a wet floor, uneven surfaces, or any other dangerous conditions. If you’ve experienced an injury, the first job is to find the responsible party but it can sometimes be difficult to tie this blame to the owner.

Accident Prevention

Whether it’s yourself or a loved one who has been affected by a slip and fall case, your immediate reaction is probably to look up a slip and fall lawyer to get the lawsuit started. However, you first need to ask some important questions. Namely, could the accident have been prevented if the owner had taken more care?

If you were to slip and fall thanks to a leaking roof, a lawsuit would be perfectly normal if the business had taken no action to either deal with the leak or inform visitors to the building. On the other hand, a lawsuit may not be possible if the owners have introduced a drainage grate as well as putting up warning signs. Furthermore, the owner doesn’t always take responsibility for trips and slips if the guilty object would normally be found in that location. For example, a leaf rake sitting on the lawn in fall. While the business or property owner will have a certain degree of responsibility for safety, the visitor must also take the surroundings into consideration and avoid dangers.

The Role of the Property Owner in a Slip and Fall Incident

Unfortunately, there is no definitive law or list of dangerous conditions for which the owner should be held accountable. Of course, every property owner should take steps to remove dangerous conditions and keep all visitors safe. However, accountability is usually decided on a case-by-case basis after all the facts have been considered. Today, we’re going to follow guidelines courts and insurance companies tend to use so you have a good idea of what to expect if you go ahead with a lawsuit.

Finding Liability In a Slip and Fall Accident

If you were to get in touch with a slip and fall lawyer after having an accident on somebody else’s property, the first thing you’ll need to do is prove one of the three statements below;

  • The property owner or anyone within (including employees) caused the spillage, damaged mat, or whatever it was that led to your accident.
  • The owner or employees didn't take the appropriate precautions after learning of the dangerous condition.
  • The owner or employees should have had some knowledge of the dangerous condition (i.e. a ‘reasonable’ owner or employee would have been more alert to the danger and taken the steps towards a solution).

On the whole, using our own experience at The Injury Firm, the third statement seems to be the most common for litigation because owners are generally very good with upkeep in their business or property. This being said, the word ‘should’ makes the case a little more subjective and it will be up to the jury or judge to decide whether or not the property owner/employees ‘should’ have known.

Reasonableness of Actions

If you decide to take the case forward, we’ll need to show liability for the injuries you experienced on the property. Within this, it often includes the ‘reasonableness’ of the actions from the employees or property owner. Ultimately, this requires an overall assessment of the property owner and their working practices. When you team up with The Injury Firm, we’ll ask the following questions.

  • What cleaning schedule has the property owner introduced? Do they have any records we could look through to show cleaning activities? Can they provide proof for any claims they make regarding a cleaning schedule or overall inspection?
  • Was the defect present for long before the accident? The longer the dangerous condition was present, the more likely a judge or jury is to stand on your side. For example, spillage on the floor of a grocery store would require a different response if it had been there for several hours as opposed to a couple of minutes. If the spillage led to the slip just a couple of seconds later, the question of ‘should’ the owner or employees have known is likely to be a ‘no’ because there wasn't enough time.
  • If you tripped on something on the floor, was it out of place or was the object inclined to be there. For example, tripping over a fallen product would be different to tripping over some small ladders staff members use to put products on top of the shelves. So long as there were warnings in place for the ladders, this may be a legitimate object.
  • If we continue on the same theme, the object may have had a legitimate reason for being on the floor in the first instance but does the need still exist? If you’re visiting somebody’s home and you trip over a tin of paint, the reason for its placement doesn’t exist if the paint hasn't been opened for twelve months.

Clumsiness in Law

Within the majority of US states, there’s a rule of ‘comparative negligence’ with all slip and fall cases. Essentially, this means that your compensation/damages will be reduced if you contributed to the incident; the extent to which the award is reduced will be decided by the jury or judge. These days, the most common example of this seems to be the mobile phone. If you were talking on the phone or just lacked the attention to spot warning signs, you won’t get the full award because you could have prevented the accident yourself.

Just as we saw before, there are some important questions we can ask to assess the likelihood of success with your case.

  • Should you have noticed the dangerous condition before then taking the appropriate steps to avoid the accident? For example, could you have held onto the handrail when descending some slippery steps?
  • Were you invited to the property (i.e. was your reason for visiting legitimate)? Was the owner expecting you or happy for you to be there in the case of businesses?
  • Did you contribute to the slip and fall accident by taking risks? As well as talking/texting on the phone, this includes skating in business shoes, running around the outside of a swimming pool, or hopping down the stairs.
  • Was the dangerous condition highlighted in any way? Did the owner erect a sign or barrier to prevent people from accessing or causing injury near the dangerous condition?

If you’ve already been conversing with the insurance company, these are questions that have probably been addressed already. For the most part, it isn't for you to prove your care to the insurance company but you will have to show a little just so they know you weren't acting negligently. So long as you weren't blatantly oblivious while on the phone or being silly by jumping and skipping, you should be good for the case and the insurance company should tell you the same.

Working with The Injury Firm

If you’ve been involved in a Fort Lauderdale slip and fall accident, you need a company that knows exactly what to do. Rather than choosing a company with little experience and an average track record, The Injury Firm has been operating within the market for many years and this means we’ve already made the mistakes a law firm can make. While others are still discovering the industry and how to navigate certain problems, we’ve done it all and we have solutions ready.

With The Injury Firm, you’ll have a team full of experts by your side from the very first minute to the last. To start the process, your slip and fall attorney will discuss what happened, how it happened, the cause of the incident, and how we can help moving forward. From here, if we take your case on, we’ll start investigating further which will allow us to build evidence and a case that has the best chance of success.

Throughout the process, we’ll be just a phone call away to answer your questions or ease your concerns. Since we’ve been through the stages so many times, we know the tricks insurance companies will pull and we can advise you on how to avoid them both now and as the process develops.

After Experiencing a Slip and Fall Accident

If you or your loved ones are reading this as a precaution or the accident has only just occurred, the first thing we suggest is getting medical attention if the injury is serious. Although we would love to gather evidence and get a strong start on the case, this should never come first if your health is the sacrifice. Unfortunately, slip and fall accidents are known for ligament tears, tendon pulls, broken bones, deep gashes, and more. If you need a medical professional, make sure you get this help and get a copy of all paperwork for the case.

If you have a friend or family member with you, get them to start taking photographs of the scene. Without this evidence, the company or property owner is likely to have the problem fixed before your next visit and this will reduce your chances of finding success. With just a few pictures on a smartphone, you can highlight the danger, the lack of action taken by the owner/employees, and the injuries themselves.

If possible, you should also gather the names and contact information of all witnesses that are happy to help with the case. Although many will be unwilling to get involved at first, they should offer something if you stay calm and tell them where their contact information will go. If you feel as though they won’t help in the future, ask for a short statement now since we can use this to build a case.

Choose a Trusted and Reliable Slip and Fall Lawyer

If you phone The Injury Firm today, we can arrange a free consultation where we discuss everything about your incident and decide whether or not your case has a footing. If so, you can go away and think about whether you want to take it forward before then getting in contact with us again. If you say the magic words, we’ll launch into action so all you need to consider is your health and getting better in the coming weeks and months.

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