Slip and Fall Claims – What You Need to Prove to Win

November 10, 2020

Our experienced attorneys have handled many slip and fall claims. If you need legal help, contact a Boston slip and fall accident attorney at Michael Kelly today.

Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere, including on business and residential properties. This can result in injuries. If you have suffered any injuries due to another person’s negligence or carelessness, you might be able to obtain compensation for the injuries you have sustained. However, the main question that needs to be answered is: what do you need to prove to obtain compensation? In this brief article, we will be looking at the key points that relate to slip and fall accident claims.. 

Whether you are attempting to get an insurance settlement or filing a personal damage claim, you need evidence. You need to show that the third party was responsible for your injuries due to their carelessness if you want to win your case.

The major questions in slip and fall claims include:

  • Which parties are potentially liable?
  • Were the parties negligent, and did they fail to prevent an accident or cause an accident?

As the victim of a slip and fall accident, another essential element will be preparing to argue that your injuries were not caused by your own carelessness..

Liability Theories in Slip and Fall Claims

In order for a third party to be held responsible for a slip and fall accident, the following must be proven by the victim: 

The danger should have been recognized by the property agent or owner.

The victim needs to prove that the property agent or owner must have been able to identify the dangerous condition (unlighted apartment corridor, open manhole, pothole, uneven walkway, etc.) but failed to eliminate or repair the hazard. The key point is: would the hazardous condition or danger have been recognized by a reasonable person, and did the defendant have the opportunity or sufficient amount of time to get rid of the danger before an accident took place?

Was the danger actually caused by the employee or property owner?

Under this question, the victim must prove the defendant caused the accident by knowingly creating a hazardous or dangerous environment. For instance, not using the right warning sign while cleaning, leaving hazardous obstacles around, etc. 

In slip and fall injury settlement negotiations or litigation, the term ‘reasonable’ is frequently used. This is because if the third party (defendant) is going to be held responsible in a slip and fall case, then the victim needs to prove that the defendant did not act in the way that a reasonable and sensible individual would in similar circumstances. Therefore, the following factors need to be considered to assess this:

  • Did the hazardous condition or situation exist for a long enough period of time that the property owner could have eliminated the danger?
  • Did the agent, employee, or landlord have a strategy to inspect the property for potential risks on a regular basis? If that is true, then there needs to be some record of whether the process was done before the accident.
  • Was there a reasonable justification for creating a possible hazard? If so, did this justification exist before the accident?
  • Was poor lighting or limited visibility a factor that contributed to the slip and fall accident?
  • Was it possible to take preventive measures to make the hazardous condition not as dangerous such as putting up warning signs, relocation, etc.?

How to Prove You Were Not the One Who Caused the Accident

In slip and fall claims, the defendant will usually search for a way to blame the victim instead of themselves. You need to expect that the insurance company or property owner will try to shift the blame and argue that you are totally or partially at fault for your accident. 

This kind of argument is made based on the legal concept of ‘comparative fault.’ The idea has been systematized by the states in comparative negligence and contributory negligence laws. The rules vary from one state to the next and affect a plaintiff’s ability to recover compensation if they are found to be totally or partially at fault for their accident. 

For instance, in states where contributory fault rules are followed, the victim is disqualified from receiving compensation if it is found that they are responsible in any way for the accident. On the other hand, in states following comparative negligence laws, the compensation that a victim can recover will be reduced based on the specific percentage of that fault that has been assigned to them. For instance, if a victim was to receive $100,000 in compensation for their injuries and it was determined they were 25% at fault for the accident, then the total amount of compensation they could receive would be reduced by 25%, which would make it $75,000. Because these laws vary from state to state, you should always reach out to a local personal injury attorney who is familiar with negligence laws in your specific state.

  • How is blame assigned to a victim? The following are a couple of questions or things that the courts will attempt to answer:
  • Did the accident victim have legal access to the place where the accident took place, or was there a genuine reason why the plaintiff needed to go into the hazardous area?
  • Did the victim take any action that might have prevented them from being able to note the danger, like texting or talking (where another reasonable individual would have noticed and avoided the danger)?
  • Were all appropriate safety measures implemented, or were there sufficient warning signs?

If the defense team can prove one of the above, it means that a victim’s injuries were caused by their own negligence, which decreases the chances of obtaining compensation.

Contact a Boston Slip and Fall Lawyer 

If you were injured due to a slip and fall accident, call our Boston slip and fall attorneys. Our lawyers are very knowledgeable, experienced, and highly skilled when it comes to personal injury claims in Boston. When you contact us, our professional attorneys will review your case and discuss the legal options available to you.

We offer a free initial consultation and work on a contingency basis. That means you do not need to worry about any upfront legal fees. That gives you time to obtain compensation first. Call Michael Kelly today to get your free consultation scheduled with one of our attorneys.

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Michael D. Kelly has a diverse background that provides a breadth of legal knowledge that he draws upon in serving his clients. Kelly compiled an excellent academic record during his three years at New England Law in Boston.