The Handbook to Slip and Fall Lawsuits
Did you know that one of the most common personal injury cases is a slip and fall accident? If you suffered an injury from falling while on someone else’s property, you may be able to recover money for your injuries. Premises liability laws state that the property owner can be held responsible for a condition on their property that caused the fall.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents
An owner can be held responsible for any condition that exists on their property. These conditions include:
- Slippery floor
- Uneven surface
- Defective stairs
- Ice or snow
When Is The Owner Responsible In a Slip and Fall Case?
A property owner must use reasonable care to maintain their property. Proper maintenance includes ensuring the property is clear from any defects or conditions that could injure those lawfully on the property. The owner may also be responsible for injuries to social and business guests who have access to the property.
To be held liable, the property owner must have acted negligently in allowing the condition to exist. To prove that the owner was negligent, the owner must have created the condition, knew about the condition and failed to correct it, or that the condition was there for a significant period of time in which the owner should have known about the condition but didn’t fix it.
The most challenging part to prove is that the condition was present for a sufficient period of time for the owner to have discovered and remedied it. Once a dangerous condition arises, the owner must discover and remedy it within a “reasonable” time. There is no definition for a “reasonable amount of time,” but the longer the condition was on the ground, the better chance the plaintiff has of proving the owner is responsible. Without knowing when the condition arose, however, it isn’t easy to establish when a reasonable time has passed for the owner to discover and fix it.
Were you injured by a dog or other animal on someone else’s property? You could be eligible for compensation. Learn more about dog bites through our articles or reach out to one of our million-dollar lawyers today.
The Owner's Search
An owner must conduct a reasonable search when they know guests have access to their property. This does not include an intensive search but anything that is easily discovered through a look-over. For example, rotted stairs or a puddle of water indoors are easily discoverable by taking a glance.
Snow and Ice Storms
When a rain storm comes through an area, the owner is not responsible for cleaning the property until the storm has stopped. Additionally, the owner is not required to clean their property during small breaks in the storm. The rain must stop for a significant amount of time for the owner to be responsible for any ice or excess snow on their property.
Slip and Fall and Premises Liability
When a slip and fall occurs on somebody’s property, they will be held responsible under premises liability. While the slip and fall cause the injury, the lawsuit may be brought under premises liability because it occurred on the owner’s land. To be responsible under premises liability, the owner must have acted unreasonably given the situation. Furthermore, the owner’s actions must have resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries.
Step-By-Step Litigation of a Slip and Fall Case
Step 1 - Keeping track of medical records
Once you receive medical treatment, you should begin preparing for the legal process. Be sure to track what medical treatment you have received as it makes establishing your injury easier. Monitoring and recording your medical treatments in real-time makes it easier in the future to provide this information to your attorney.
Step 2 - Finding a lawyer
The next step in a slip and fall case is finding a lawyer. When looking for a lawyer, don’t just type into Google “personal injury lawyer.” It’s just too broad. You want expertise specifically within the slip and fall space. Ideally, it would be great to find a lawyer who’s already tried a case with your type of injury.
Step 3 - filing The Lawsuit
It’s now time to file the lawsuit. Assuming you have a lawyer representing you, your involvement should be minimal. Once the lawsuit is filed, you will move into the discovery stage. During this time, your attorney will receive requests for information from the defendant’s attorney. Many times, your attorney will be contacting you to collect any information required to respond to the defence. You will also have to attend a deposition, where the other side will ask you questions about the accident and your injuries.
Step 4 - Negotiation, Settlement, and Trial
Once the discovery process is over, the sides will then begin negotiating. This process can be over quickly or be a long, drawn-out process. Remember, your attorney is required to advise you of any offer the defense makes. If you cannot reach an agreement, the sides will move forward to court assisted settlement discussions involving mediations or settlement conferences with the court. If these options fail, then the court will order an arbitration or have a trial.
Finding The Right Lawyer For Your Slip And Fall Case
Before jumping into the lawsuit, it is smart to consult with a personal injury attorney to discuss your options. Most personal injury law firms handle slip and fall cases, making picking an attorney difficult because there are so many options. There are big firms, small firms, sole practitioners, and the dreaded settlement mills. Please do your homework before settling on an attorney and make sure it’s the right fit for you.