How Do I Prove Negligence in My Slip and Fall Case?


David Mudd

Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common reasons for emergency visits and hospitalizations throughout the United States. Every year thousands of people get injured in slip and fall accidents that leave them with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills and other incidental expenses. If your slip and fall accident occurred at someone else’s property, it is perfectly natural for you to wonder what legal options you can pursue to get justice.

If you or your loved one got injured in a slip and fall accident at someone else’s property, you can sue the negligent party for damages. To obtain fair financial compensation for your physical, financial, and emotional damages, it is essential to prove the negligence of the property owner or staff. It is why determining liability is one of the core components of any slip and fall lawsuit and the reason why professional legal representation can make a significant difference.

Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents result from a wide range of safety hazards, including loose carpeting, broken floors, slippery surfaces (snow, rain, ice), poor lighting conditions, broken staircases, tripping hazards, potholes, uneven walkways, lack of railings, inadequate warning signs, and more. Most of the aforementioned safety hazards arise when property owners or staff are negligent in ensuring regular maintenance and upkeep of the property. Even if there are unaddressed safety hazards at a property, it is the legal duty of the management to place sufficient warning signs to prevent slip and fall accidents.

Types of Slip and Fall Injuries

Slip and fall accidents can result in a number of physical injuries, including soft tissue trauma (bruises, contusions, bleeding), bone fractures, intracranial hemorrhages, spinal cord damage, paralysis, or even death. At best, slip and fall injuries can resolve with medical or surgical treatment that racks up hundreds of thousands in hospital bills and costs of medical or occupational therapy. At worst, these injuries can incapacitate a person for life and might even prove fatal despite the best medical or surgical treatment.

Determining Negligence

Establishing negligence is one of the most crucial elements of any slip and fall case. You can only obtain financial compensation through a lawsuit if you can successfully prove in a court of law that the accident resulted from someone else’s negligent behavior.

Premises Liability Law governs slip and fall injuries that occur at someone else’s property, whether public or private. According to this rule, you have to prove the following four elements to prove negligence on the part of the defendant:

  1. The property owner owed you a duty of care, which entailed the provision of safe conditions for all guests or visitors.
  2. By knowingly or unknowingly creating or failing to address safety hazards, they breached this duty of care.
  3. The violation of this duty of care directly resulted in your slip and fall accident and injuries.
  4. The slip and fall accident resulting from the property owner’s negligence caused you significant physical, emotional, or financial harm.

All property owners owe their visitors or guests a duty of care, which includes the elimination of any dangerous conditions at the property that have the potential of causing serious physical harm. If the property owner or staff fails to minimize any safety hazards that cause such accidents, they can be held liable in a court of law.

Comparative VS Contributory Negligence

Depending on the state you live in, the laws governing negligence in personal injury lawsuits differ. There are two systems to determine negligence, namely comparative and contributory negligence. In states that follow the comparative negligence system, you can obtain financial compensation for your damages even if you were partly at fault for the accident. In this case, the amount you receive as compensation gets reduced according to the percentage of your fault. Some states follow a contributory negligence system, according to which you will not be able to obtain financial compensation for your damages if you are at all responsible for the accident.

Doing Your Part

One of the best things you can do to safeguard your legal rights after a slip and fall accident is to take as many photos and videos of the scene of the accident and your injuries as possible. You should also file an official accident report with the property administration and obtain short statements from eyewitnesses. This evidence will later help in establishing negligence and prove pivotal to your success in obtaining compensation for your damages.

Hiring a Lawyer

Hiring an experienced injury lawyer is one of the most important steps to prove negligence leading to a slip and fall accident. While it is possible to represent yourself in personal injury cases, navigating the legal complexities of a lawsuit can be highly challenging. A skilled lawyer will help you gather evidence, prepare paperwork, file the lawsuit, and obtain the financial compensation you deserve. Most reputable law firms offer free initial legal consultations that can help you understand the specifics of your case better.