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Recovering Damages for Slip and Fall Accidents Inside Commercial Spaces: Proving Liability and Negligence

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Note: Suzanne’s story is a fictional scenario presented to help illustrate the liability and negligence of a commercial space that leads to a slip and fall accident worth recovering damages for.

Introduction

If you slipped and fell inside a commercial space, you may be entitled to compensation depending on the circumstances. 

In this blog post, we will discuss how liability and negligence play a role in personal injury lawsuits. We will also outline how a skilled lawyer can look at your case and help you determine who is at fault and how you can take action.

Duty of Care

Generally, property owners have a duty of care to those who enter their premises. This duty of care involves invitees, licensees, and trespassers. 

Invitees are invited onto the property for business purposes, such as a customer entering a store. Licensees have permission to enter for their own purposes, such as social guests. 

Trespassers have limited access to a property owner’s duty of care due to the nature of their presence, but property owners still may not intentionally harm someone who trespasses. 

Types of Hazards

Property owners have a duty to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition for visitors. This means they mitigate hazards such as wet floors, uneven surfaces, loose flooring/carpeting/rugs, and newly polished flooring. Trips, slips, and falls could lead to serious damages for both the visitor and the property owner. Even something like poor lighting could potentially pose a risk.

Negligence

Types of negligence that lead to accidents include failure to clean up spills, fix damaged flooring, and provide proper caution of dangerous conditions. In some jurisdictions, comparative negligence applies. 

This means that the injured person’s compensation may be reduced in proportion to their degree of fault if they did not pay proper attention to warning signs. 

Liability

Negligence leads to liability, which is defined as the legal responsibility for one’s actions or omissions that result in harm to another person. For example, if a property owner fails to fix broken concrete on the stairs leading up to their business, they may be liable for someone’s injuries should the customer fall while trying to enter the shop. In this example, premises liability is at play here. 

Premises liability is a specific type of personal injury law that involves accidents occurring on property owned by an individual or legal entity.

What is Personal Injury?

Personal injury lawsuits involve a victim, or plaintiff, suing a responsible party. The end goal in a personal injury lawsuit (from the plaintiff’s end) is to receive money for economic damages, such as lost wages and medical bills, as well as non-economic damages, like pain and suffering or diminished quality of life. 

Proof

A skilled attorney can help you prove your case if you were injured as a result of someone else’s actions or failure to act. To establish negligence, a person must be able to demonstrate the following: 

  • The property owner owed a duty of care.
  • The owner breached that duty by causing a hazard or failing to address it. 
  • The owner’s breach of duty then directly caused the person’s slip and fall accident. 
  • The accident resulted in measurable damages, such as medical expenses/lost wages/pain and suffering/diminished quality of life

In proving that the owner breached a duty of care, you must prove “actual or constructive knowledge.” Actual knowledge means that the property owner knew about the hazard. Constructive knowledge means that the property owner should have known about the hazard given how long the hazard was there. 

If you can, follow these steps to prove fault and establish evidence:

  1. Report the incident and seek medical care as soon as possible.
  2. Exchange contact information with anyone who witnessed the slip and fall so they can give a statement. 
  3. If you’re able, take photos and videos of the scene including the hazard and any relevant conditions. 
  4. Obtain records about the condition of the premises, including any maintenance schedules. 

Suzanne’s Story

Suzanne went grocery shopping one day, and she slipped on the freshly mopped floor. There was no caution sign in the aisle, so she didn’t know to be careful. Suzanne suffered a hip injury from the fall, which cost her money in medical bills and pain for months after the incident. 

The grocery store has a duty of care to its shoppers, and they neglected to put a “wet floor” sign up, so Suzanne got an attorney to help her sue for personal injury. 

After the fall and before leaving the store, Suzanne snapped a photo on her phone of the aisle. You could see that the floor was wet, but there was no sign indicating so. She used this as evidence in her case. 

How a Lawyer Plays a Role

The property owner may try to defend themselves by saying they took steps to maintain the premises, the dangerous condition was obvious, or the injured person was in some way at fault. The circumstances of every case are different, and not every property has security cameras to document the incident. 

Gathering evidence to build a case can be a difficult process, as it can sometimes be difficult to prove fault. A lawyer can help you assess the viability of your claim, follow legal procedures in filing a lawsuit against the responsible party, and negotiate settlement or represent you in court if the case goes to trial. 

Conclusion

If you have questions about your legal rights or need to build a case against a property owner, look no further than The Law Offices Of Craig L. Cook. 

We are experts in personal injury cases, and we are here to help you recover damages for your slip and fall accident! You can book a free consultation with us to get started.