If you’re considering filing a personal injury claim, you must keep in mind that not all slip and fall injuries are “actionable.” This means property owners or renters may not be legally responsible for your injuries.
In order to be liable in a personal injury claim, the owner/renter of the property must be negligent in maintaining their premises. They must have either contributed to your injury or caused it to happen through their actions or through their failure to act responsibly.
The Legal Responsibilities of Property Owners, Renters, and Managers
Property owners are most commonly named in personal injury claims. There are others, like renters and managers, who may be partially responsible for maintaining property. Any individual that holds legal responsibility may be negligent in their legal duties and therefore liable for injuries in a lawsuit.
Under the law, property owners, renters, or managers are required to act “reasonably” to ensure the safety and security of visitors, employees, or any others on their premises. Acting reasonably means:
- Addressing dangerous conditions in a short timeframe
- Taking measures to notify visitors of potentially hazardous conditions.
Slip and Fall Accident Circumstances
Slip and fall accidents can occur for a variety of reasons. They may be caused by poor property maintenance or by weather conditions. When property is not maintained, the owner may be held liable. When the weather is at fault however, it’s unlikely the owner will be held negligent.
Certain hazards are unavoidable, in other words. For example, ice forms on sidewalks and parking lots in the winter. Owners may attempt to keep up with slippery conditions. Provided they make a consistent and strong effort to keep things safe, they may not be legally responsible for injuries that occur.
There are circumstances under which an owner is clearly responsible though. If a property owner spills a slippery substance and does not set up caution signs warning visitors of the hazard, then injuries from a slip and fall in the area would be due to owner negligence.
How a Lawyer can Help Determine Responsibility in a Slip and Fall Case
When a property owner fails to notify visitors of a potential hazard, like a spill that makes the floor slippery, fault is fairly simple to establish in a claim. A lawyer may still be needed to fight for damages on your behalf though, especially if the claim goes to trial.
Not all slip and fall accidents are so clear-cut. Even when a property owner fails to repair a sidewalk, for example, fault in a claim can still be argued:
- Your attorney may argue that the owner should have repaired the damage, cordoned off the hazardous area, or otherwise notified visitors of the potentially dangerous circumstances.
- The defendant’s attorney may argue that any reasonable person should have noticed the sidewalk was uneven and that should have watched their step.
A personal injury lawyer’s primary goal is to prove negligence. In doing so, the attorney shows the defendant is responsible for your injuries. An attorney may discover the sidewalk was in disrepair for months and that the owner has had other incidents or injuries occur as a result. This kind of information can clearly establish fault and get you the compensation you need.
Whether a claim is settled out of court or goes to trial, a personal injury attorney provides crucial counsel and support. He or she investigates details, communicates with the defendant’s lawyer on your behalf, and files all the necessary paperwork with the court system.