No-one sets out to fall over and injure oneself deliberately, but sometimes it happens accidentally. You can slip up easily enough if you walk over some spilled liquid in a supermarket, or trip over on a rough section of sidewalk.
If you do this at home, there is no-one you can blame but yourself and you will have to cope with the cost of medical treatment, and if you have to lose time from your job you may lose income too.
However, there are also many instances where you could slip, trip and fall on someone else’s property.
If you weren’t to blame and the accident happened due to someone else’s negligence it will seem unfair that you may have to pay for the costs of any injuries that weren’t your fault.
Can You File a Claim if You Were Trespassing?
Most property owners will carry premises liability insurance and in the event that they are proven to have been negligent they can be sued for damages, i.e. the cost of any medical treatment and any other losses such as loss of income.
But what happens if you had no permission to be on the property? Can you claim compensation if you become injured when trespassing, for instance?
The answer, generally, is that if someone is not legally present on someone else’s property, they cannot claim that the owner is liable if they become injured.
Imagine, for instance, that two boys climb over a neighbor’s fence and climb trees while the neighbor is not there. One of the boys climbs a tree and falls down after grabbing a rotten tree branch that breaks.
It is highly unlikely that the boy’s family will be able to claim any compensation from their neighbor if the neighbor had never allowed the boys in to his garden, even if the neighbor knew full well that his apple tree was not safe to climb.
There are exceptions to this, however. For example, if the boys in the previous example had played in the man's garden before without the man taking any action to remove them, there may then be a case for a claim of negligence on the part of the neighbor.
He hadn’t expressly given permission for the boys to be allowed to climb trees into his garden on that particular day, but because he allowed them to play there without stopping them in the past, the fact that he did not do so may make him liable for their injuries.
Another possibility is where a property owner is so aware of possible trespassing that he sets a trap to hurt the trespasser. It could be a pit that is concealed or even a weapon which automatically goes off when someone enters the house.
If the property owner is not there at the time of the trespasser’s intrusion and a very serious accident takes place, then there may be a case for a claim, but only if it can be proved that the owner was expecting a possible trespass to take place and had done nothing to warn a trespasser or prevent serious injury from happening.
Proving Liability in a Slip-and-Fall Accident
Even if the accident victim is legally on someone else’s property when a slip and fall accident takes place, it can be difficult to prove that negligence was involved.
If the accident took place on government property strict time limits on making a claim are usually involved and there may also be caps on the amount that can be claimed.
In general, a plaintiff must be able to establish that the owner of the place where the accident took place, or someone who was in charge of it, such as an employee or manager, knew about the hazard or at least had had a reasonable amount of time to know about a hazard.
If nothing had been done to rectify or remove the hazard or warn anyone using that area that it was unsafe, then this may be the basis of a personal injury claim.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help in a Slip-and-Fall Case
If you, or a family member, have been injured in a slip and fall accident and you think that it was not your fault, you should talk to an experienced accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Proving liability can be a difficult and lengthy process.
A lawyer with experience in premises liability law will know how to:
- Find evidence that can back up your claim, including requesting witness statements as well as statements from the defendant(s)
- Calculate a fair and accurate amount for the personal injury claim
- Negotiate on your behalf with the defendant’s insurer