What are the grounds for a slip and fall lawsuit?
Determining if you have a slip and fall lawsuit depends on several factors, and the analysis can change depending on what state you’re in. Regardless, to have grounds for a slip and fall lawsuit, there are particular elements you must prove in all slip and fall lawsuits to be able to recover compensation.
How to Determe Liability?
One of the primary parts of the analysis of your slip and fall claim will be to determine if someone else should be held legally responsible, and if so, who. Sometimes people slip and injure themselves, and it has to be chalked up to bad luck or an unfortunate circumstance. The fact that you slipped and fell—even on someone else’s property—doesn’t automatically mean you can sue them to recover compensation. The laws vary by state, but in most areas of the country, there are similar factors that need to be explored.
Were You Permitted to Be on the Property?
Whether you were permitted to be on the property and what “class” of person you are makes a difference. The classes include invitees, licensees, and trespassers. In most states, property owners have a strong duty to protect invitees and licensees by keeping the property safe to the extent that it is reasonable.
Invitees are expressly invited onto the property for a reason that benefits the owner. For example, a restaurant that is open and is clearly inviting people to enter the establishment and spend money. If someone enters the restaurant, they are an invitee. Invitees are owed the highest level of care to be kept safe by the property owner.
Licensees have permission to enter the property that they’re on, but their presence is not a financial benefit to the owner. For example, when you visit your friend’s house, you’re an invitee. Still, property owners definitely owe a duty of care to licensees.
Trespassers are those who are on the property without permission. Duty of care to trespassers depends on the state and the specific circumstances. Sometimes the duty of care for trespassers is to simply not willfully set up hazards that will injure trespassers. In other states, a property owner has a duty to keep their property safe to trespassers if they knew that trespassers were likely to enter their property. This is particularly true if the homeowner has a pool on their property. Pools are often known as attractive nuisances and are known to be a draw to trespassers, especially children. In this case, the property owner owes the child a duty of care to keep the property and the area around the pool safe, even if the child wasn’t permitted to be on the property.
Can You Prove That the Property Owner Was Negligent?
The most important determination in most slip and fall cases and whether you have grounds for a claim is whether the property owner was negligent and whether their negligence caused your accident and the injuries that followed. To prove negligence in a slip and fall case, 4 elements must be proven.
- Defendant Owns or Leases the Property or Has a Legal Obligation to Maintain the Premises. To be able to hold someone liable for a slip and fall injury, they must have had a legal obligation to maintain the property. If the defendant was the owner of the property or leased the property, this is an easy way to establish that they had a duty to keep the property safe. In some cases, this responsibility can be extended to agencies that manage properties as well. You must be able to prove that the defendant controlled the property and that they therefore had a duty to maintain the property appropriately.
- The Defendant Breached This Duty of Care. You will also need to show that the defendant breached their duty of care. Typically, the duty of care requires the property owner or possessor of the property to take reasonable actions to keep the property safe. This is done by regular inspections, fixing repairs when they are reported, and warning visitors of any kind of danger that may not be obvious. If you slipped and fell because of uneven pavement that was reported to the property owner for months and was never fixed, this might be enough to show that they breached their duty of care.
- The Breach of Duty Caused Injury. Next, you need to prove that the defendant’s breach caused you to sustain an injury. You need to show that you were injured, but also that a lack of reasonable care was what played a substantial part in causing your injury. For example, you can present eyewitness testimony, video footage, photographs, medical records, and expert witness testimony to establish that the injury occurred because of the dangerous condition on the property.
- You Suffered Damages. Finally, you must prove that you are entitled to recover damages as a result. If you incurred hospital bills and had to miss out on work because of the injury, this will show that you should be able to recover compensation. Damages can also include compensation for non-physical injuries, such as emotional distress.
Contact Morgan & Morgan Today
All slip and fall cases are different, and you might be wondering, “What are the grounds for a slip and fall lawsuit?” This depends on several factors. If you were injured in a slip and fall, you should always reach out to a lawyer right away to discuss your options. Whether you were permitted to be on the property, what your percentage of fault was, what state you’re located in, and whether you can prove the defendant was negligent will play a significant part in determining if you have a viable claim. Contact Morgan & Morgan today to schedule a free consultation.