According to the National Floor Safety Institute, slip and falls are one of the leading causes of emergency room visits. Falls are also a common cause of workplace injury. The National Floor Safety Institute also says that falls from the same level are slightly more common than falls from elevation.
What is premises liability?
You may have heard the phrase premises liability, but you might not know what it has to do with slip and fall accidents. A premises liability case is a type of personal liability case. Basically it means that a person who owns a piece of property has an obligation to keep it safe for other people who might enter the property. If there’s a hazard or defect that causes a slip and fall, the owner can be liable for the victim’s accident costs.
Negligence and Reasonable Care
In most cases, negligence is the legal standard in a premises liability case. If a person acts negligently, that means that they don’t use the amount of care that a reasonable person should use in that situation. To put it another way, a property owner must use reasonable care to keep their property safe.
There are many expected and unexpected ways that a property owner can fail to keep a property safe that leads to a slip and fall. Here are some common examples:
- A property owner might leave a hazard on the property without cleaning it up such as fallen debris after a storm.
- A property owner might install unsafe or defective flooring that results in a slip and fall injury.
- A property owner might fail to clean up snow and ice in a timely manner.
When it comes to classifications of visitors to a property, there are three:
In states that divide premises liability into these categories, the theory is that a trespasser shouldn’t have the same right to recover as a person who is invited onto the property.
Some states still allow a trespasser to recover for an open and obvious danger, while other states say that a property owner has no duty to a trespasser whatsoever. A property owner has the highest duty to a person who they invite onto their property. An example of this might be a person that’s invited to come shop at a store.
Burden of Proof
The burden of proof for a civil case is not as high as it is for a criminal case. That means that it doesn’t take as much proof to win your case as it might take a state attorney to convince a jury to convict someone of committing a crime. In addition, not all states require a unanimous verdict in a civil case.
Is the property owner always negligent?
A property owner only has to do what’s reasonable to care for their property. That means that sometimes people get hurt on a property without the property owner acting negligently. It’s even possible that an unsafe condition can exist on a property without the owner doing anything wrong. To recover your accident damages, you must prove that the property owner knew the condition that caused your injury was unsafe or that they should have taken steps to learn about it. If you’ve suffered a slip and fall injury, it’s important to speak with a skilled and experienced slip and fall lawyer Charlottesville VA relies on about your ability to recover under a theory of premises liability.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from MartinWren P.C. for their insight into slip and fall cases.