- June 14, 2023
- Slip and Fall Accident
Slip and fall incidents cause physical pain, emotional distress, and financial damage to the victim. In such a case, the victim deserves support from their loved ones and compensation from the person responsible for the accident.
The case falls under premises liability which stipulates that property owners have a legal responsibility to keep their premises safe for visitors. However, proving fault in a slip and fall case can be challenging. It is essential to understand the legal requirements, so the question, “How do you prove fault in a slip and fall case,” is an important one.
To prove fault, the plaintiff must demonstrate that their fall was a result of the property owner’s negligence as they failed to fulfill their duty of care. Moreover, the plaintiff must also prove that the injuries were a direct result of the fall and not of any other condition.
How Do You Prove Fault in a Slip and Fall Accident?
You cannot bring a lawsuit against someone every time you stumble around the block. To win a claim, you will have to demonstrate that a specific person or entity was negligent in their duty which resulted in the accident.
There are specific areas around which you can build your case to get compensation. Let us find out how you do prove fault in a slip and fall accident.
Elements of Negligence
The first step is to prove that you fell due to the negligence of the property owner or the occupier. There are certain legal conditions to label an accident as negligence.
The law requires four elements to establish negligence:
- The existence of the duty of care that the defendant owed to the plaintiff.
- Breach of the duty of care by the defendant.
- Accident as a direct result of the breach of duty.
- Proof that the accident caused damages or personal injury to the plaintiff.
Establishing Duty of Care and Negligence
One of the key aspects in proving fault in a slip and fall case is to determine who is responsible for the accident. Here, the plaintiff must establish the duty of care of the defendant and the breach of that duty.
Owner Negligence: Property owners must keep the premises safe for visitors. If there is a hazard that they know about but fail to remove or warn about it, they are liable for damages if an accident occurs on the premises.
Occupier Negligence: Occupiers also have a responsibility to keep their premises safe and free from hazards. If they know about a potential safety risk, it is their duty to remove it or provide a clear warning to the visitors. If they cannot remove the hazard themselves, they must bring it to the property owner’s attention. In most cases, the lawsuit is brought against the occupier because they are renting the place and are therefore responsible for its upkeep but there are exceptions.
Shared Negligence: In some cases, both the property owner and the occupier are held responsible. The examples may include:
- The owner maintains control of some part of the property.
- The owner does not disclose the hazards at the time of renting the property and the occupier does not remove or report it.
- The owner is responsible for the repair and maintenance of the property.
Demonstrating Breach of Duty
Next, the plaintiff will have to demonstrate that the defendant failed to perform their duty and the result was an accident. The plaintiff must also prove “constructive notice” which means that the property owner or the occupier knew about the hazard but didn’t fix it.
You can do that by presenting evidence such as photographs or videos of the scene, witness statements, incident reports, and medical records. Evidence should clearly show that the defendant failed to remedy the hazardous condition or to provide warnings that caused damages to the plaintiff. The plaintiff must also prove that there was no other cause of the injury or damages except the accident.
Victim’s Rights and Negligence: Invitee, Licensee, or Trespasser?
In some cases, the victim also shares the responsibility for the fall, but the rules vary from state to state. For example, if you saw a warning sign but tried to walk past it, you may be held responsible for personal negligence.
Contributory negligence is when the victim is partially responsible for the fall and is thus not able to get any compensation. An example is when a person encounters a fall while texting and not paying attention. Most states have replaced these rules with comparative negligence.
Comparative negligence rules allow a victim compensation even if they are partially at fault for the accident. However, the court determines the percentage of damage claims based on the percentage of fault. In some states, you only get compensation when the defendant is at least 50% responsible for the accident.
Status of Victim
The status of the victim is an important factor in determining the duty of care owed by the property owner or the occupier. There are three status categories:
- Invitees: The visitors who come for business on a property are called invitees. For example, a customer who enters the premises of a supermarket for shopping is an invitee. The property owner owes the highest degree of “duty of care” to the invitees.
- Licensees: A person who has permission to enter the property but is not there for business. A cleaning crew entering the supermarket is an example of a licensee. Property owners have the duty to warn the licensees of any potential hazards.
- Trespassers: People who may enter an establishment to which they are not allowed to enter. A person who enters the premises of a building when it is closed is a trespasser. The property owners have a duty to not harm them intentionally, but they do not owe them a duty to keep the premises safe or provide any warnings.
What Is the Statute of Limitations on a Slip and Fall in NY?
The statute of limitations represents the timeframe within which you can file a lawsuit against a person. If you miss that deadline, your case will not be heard in the civil court. If you are in New York, you might be wondering what the statute of limitations is on a slip and fall in NY.
In New York, the statute of limitations for slip and fall cases is the same as that in personal injury cases. Specifically, according to New York Civil Practice Laws & Rules section 214, if a person was injured on someone else’s property, they have a right to file a lawsuit in the state of New York within three years. The time starts on the day of the incident which caused the injury. There may be some exceptions, but you will have to talk to an attorney to know if your case falls under them or not.
If you were not injured during the incident but suffered property damage, the same time limit applies.
Who Is Liable in a Slip and Fall Accident?
It depends on where you encounter your fall to determine who is liable in a slip and fall accident. Some properties such as government buildings have special rules which can impact your claim.
Slip and Fall in Retail Stores
The liability for a slip and fall accident in a retail store may rest with one or more parties. The exact liability depends on the circumstances surrounding the accident. In general, the retail store owner is held accountable for any negligence on the premises.
However, if the store is rented or leased, or if a management company is running the establishment, the occupier or the store manager will be liable, respectively. In some cases, a cleaning or maintenance company may also be liable.
Landlord Slip and Fall
If you are renting an apartment where your landlord is responsible for the maintenance, they may be liable for your slip and fall. If the hazard was in the landlord’s notice but they failed to remove it, you have a strong case.
Government Property Slip and Fall
You can pursue a personal injury case If you encounter a slip and fall accident at a government property. However, you will have to notify the relevant authority about your slip and fall and prove that your fall was the fault of a government entity or an employee.
How Can Kaplan Lawyers Help?
A slip and fall accident can be a traumatic experience, leaving you with serious injuries and unexpected medical bills. You may also be unable to work, causing financial strain on you and your family.
It is difficult to collect yourself after such trauma, but it is important to pursue legal action against the responsible person as early as possible. Seeking counsel from a qualified lawyer right away can greatly increase your chances of winning the case.
Our qualified Glen Cove car accident attorneys at Kaplan will help you through the negotiations and reach a fair settlement. And if the case goes to court, our lawyers are more than qualified to prove your case and help recover the damages.
Contact Kaplan Lawyers, PC right away for a free consultation at (516) 399-2364
Managing Attorney John. J. Tucker, Esq.
John has personally handled thousands of clients who were victims of another’s negligence and fights relentlessly for their rights. John enjoys bringing closure to a client’s matter so that the injured party can move forward with their life. His background enables him to evaluate complex liability related claims and bring resolution to claims in a record time frame. [ Attorney Bio ]