Taking a nasty fall can lead to injuries, pain, lost income, and medical bills. When the fall happens in a store or on another’s property due to unsafe conditions, you may wonder if you can hold them accountable. Pursuing slip and fall cases can be challenging, but also rewarding if done right. Let’s break down what makes these cases tricky and steps you can take to strengthen your claim.
Proving Fault and Causation – Major Hurdles
Two key legal elements make slip and fall claims an uphill battle:
- Proving the property owner acted negligently by allowing an unsafe condition on their premises
To win damages, you must show the owner failed to take reasonable actions to discover and remedy spill hazards and slippery floors. If the business wasn’t aware of the dangerous condition and it was a freak accident they couldn’t prevent, proving negligence and fault can be difficult.
- Linking the fall directly to your injuries
Even if you prove negligence, the defense can argue something else caused your back pain, headaches, etc. You must clearly show the fall injuries resulted specifically from the slip and weren’t pre-existing or linked to something else. This takes documentation and expert evidence.
Overcoming Contributory Negligence Defenses
Another common defense strategy is claiming the victim shared some blame for their fall due to not paying attention, wearing improper footwear, etc. Many states follow contributory negligence rules reducing damages based on the plaintiff’s percentage of fault. Being found even 1% to blame for the accident can bar recovery. Tread carefully when facing this argument.
Situations Where Slip & Fall Claims Have More Merit
While overcoming these legal burdens can be an uphill battle, cases with certain fact patterns have better chances. Situations where victims have more easily won slip and fall disputes include:
- The property owner was aware of the spill, wet floor or other hazardous area before the incident due to previous complaints or incidents but failed to fix the issue. This helps prove they neglected safety duties.
- The dangerous condition was inherent to the premises like an overly slick floor surface or steep, unsafe ramp lacking proper railings or warning signs. Claims also succeed when reasonable safety precautions weren’t followed, like failing to put out “wet floor” warning signs.
- The victim clearly altered their routine or incurred major medical expenses from the fall showing clear injury resulting directly from the incident. Documentation helps defeat causation defenses.
Strengthen Your Position By Collecting Evidence
In a battle of evidence, smart plaintiffs enter the legal ring prepared with:
- Photographs depicting the hazardous area shortly after falling to show its dangerous nature
- Witness statements from anyone who can attest to the unsafe floor, liquid substance, lack of warning signs or other evidence supporting negligence
- Prompt medical records showing immediate treatment for newly incurred injuries consistent with a fall
- Keeping records of missed work, income losses and other money damages clearly stemming from the incident
Pursuing fair compensation requires building a compelling story backed by evidence showing the property owner’s failure to protect visitors from foreseeable hazards.
Most Cases Settle – Building Leverage Matters
Victims face an uphill legal climb proving the extent someone else is to blame for their injuries and losses. While legal burdens make winning slip and fall trials challenging, these cases commonly end in settlement once both sides weigh their chances before a jury.
Thorough evidence gathering and documentation of harms suffered gives victims leverage in negotiating fair settlements. Being ready to take the case to trial if needed is also key. Understanding legal burdens in slip and fall cases allows better assessment of options.
The Bottom Line
Slip and fall cases have unique legal hurdles regarding evidence and liability. But victims who suffer preventable accidents due to negligence deserve justice. Building a compelling claim requires collecting solid evidence and documenting harms tying the fall directly to physical, financial and emotional losses. While winning at trial may be tough, thorough preparation can lead to fair settlements compensating victims for their suffering.