Each year, thousands of people are injured in ‘slip and fall’ accidents all across America due to a range of factors such as slippery surfaces, uneven floors, stairs in disrepair and etc. However, even in the most serious cases that result in broken bones and hospital time, it can be difficult to prove that the owner of the property in question is responsible for your injuries.
When attempting to determine whether or not you may be able to make a personal injury claim, you need to exercise logic and decide what is reasonable in regards to the cause. For example, let’s say you were walking along the street and your foot got caught in a drainage grate, causing you to slip and fall, injuring you in the process. Can you honestly say that the owner is liable for the injuries you have suffered? In this case, the answer is no, after all, the grate is a necessity and serves a useful purpose for the owner and the public. Furthermore, most people will see the grate and avoid it, knowing it is there and is dangerous to walk over; therefore the fault is your own, for not taking the necessary precautions in the first place.
It is important to evaluate the situation thoroughly before acting, as if you act too soon, you could be wasting time and money for a slip and fall accident that was self-inflicted. Of course, property owners have a responsibility to keep their premises safe and danger-free for those moving in and around them, by making adjustments and leaving out signs when needed. The battle then, when attempting to prove liability is often balanced between proving whether you were exercising common sense or not and whether or not the property owner was at fault for failing to ensure his property was safe.
When attempting to decide whether or not to proceed with a personal injury claim, you would be well advised to contact an experienced Houston personal injury lawyer in your jurisdiction. Jorge L. Gomez of the Gomez Law Firm has been providing a high standard of representation for over ten years, in which time he has litigated hundreds of cases including over fifty jury trials.
Here we have provided some guidelines for you; to help you clarify with whom the liability lies with in such a case. These are the standard guidelines that courts and insurance companies use to evaluate slip and fall cases.
In order to show that the owner of the property was responsible for your slip and fall, and subsequent injury, at least one of the following has to be true:
• The owner of the property or someone in his/her employment caused your accident through gross negligence, such as a spillage, worn floor, dangerous and unnecessary obstructions etc.
• Either the owner or one of his employees was aware of the health risk but failed to do anything about it, thus putting others at risk of injury.
• The owner or his employees should have known about the hazard and removed it before it could cause any injury; therefore they are at fault for your injury.
As property owners are generally very responsible when it comes to the maintenance and care of their premises and its safety, the most common of the above scenarios to be litigated is the last one. However, this is also the most difficult to prove of the three because not everyone agrees on what an employer ‘should have known’, meaning the jury and judge might see things differently to how you do. With the assistance of a personal injury attorney with a history of dealing with slip and fall cases on your side, however, you stand a much better chance of making a successful claim.
When attempting to determine whether or not the property owner is responsible for your fall and injuries, you need to evaluate the level of their “reasonableness” regarding the actions they took to avoid such situations. The law takes into account how much effort the property owner in question put into keeping their property safe, which means you should too before taking any further action.
Ask yourself the following questions to help you in this regard:
1. If you slipped and fell on a torn or bulging area of carpet, wet floor or broken tiling and etc. had the hazard been there long enough for the property owner to have realized and done something about it?
2. Does the owner of the property have a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule and are they able to show proof of this?
3. If an object left in a particular area caused you to trip and fall, was there a legitimate reason for it being there?
4. Regarding the legitimate reason, was it still relevant at the time of your fall, i.e. had it been so long since it was placed there that the reason no longer existed? Could something have been done to make it less hazardous?
5. Was the lighting in the area so poor that it contributed to your accident?
6. Would a simple barrier or sign placed in front of the hazard have helped you to avoid the slip and fall?
If your answers to these questions point to property owner irresponsibility, then there is a very good chance that you could succeed in making a personal injury claim against him or her and be awarded the deserved monetary compensation.
Finally, you need to be aware of the rule of ‘comparative negligence’ which basically means you need to weigh your own actions against those of the property owner. This concerns the way in which you passed through the property in question, i.e. talking on a cell phone, running, not looking where you were going etc. It is extremely important that you go over the following questions either alone or with a personal injury attorney because once you file your claim an insurance adjustor will grill you for answers to these questions. It pays to be prepared beforehand.
• Were you on those premises for a good reason? Did the owner know or should he have known that you would be there?
• Put yourself in the average person’s shoes. Would someone else have noticed the hazard and avoided it?
• Had you been given reasonable warnings about the existence and position of the hazard through employee notification or signage?
• Were you in any way, responsible for the slip and fall? Think about what you were doing at the time. Could you have caused the fall due to not paying enough attention?
The Gomez Law Firm has dealt with many slip and fall cases and our founder, Jorge L. Gomez has over ten years of experience and litigated hundreds of similar cases. If you or someone close to you has suffered from a slip and fall, call us today and we’ll give you the answers you need in a free initial consultation: (713) 868 5528.