What Is a Slip and Fall Injury? A slip and fall injury happens when people trip or slip (usually on a slippery surface) then fall, physically hurting themselves. Of course, falls are an inevitable part of life for all of us, at times. Every fall is not a potential lawsuit.
Sometimes people fall because of their own carelessness. We are all responsible to watch what we are doing and to be aware of the situations around us.
But sometimes a property owner has neglected dangerous conditions that they should have known about and corrected. Determining who was responsible for an accident is important. Yet, it can be difficult to figure out who is to blame.
How is the liability for a slip and fall accident determined? For example, does the jury consider the prior conduct of the property owner or victim? What other factors does a jury look at when finalizing payouts?
Answer these questions, and you can resolve your slip and fall liability claims in no time. Here is your quick guide.
At Burriss & Ridgeway, we recognize how scary and difficult life can be in the aftermath of a serious injury. Our goal is to provide you with the information and resources necessary to secure compensation that will allow you to rehabilitate comfortably. To hear more or to schedule your first appointment, call us at (803) 451-4000.
3 Categories of Slip and Fall Injuries in Personal Injury Law
When we consider the question, “What is a slip and fall case?” There are subcategories.
Personal injury cases from a slip-and-fall injury fall into three broad types.
1. Your Own Carelessness
If you fell because of your carelessness and the property owner hadn’t been negligent, your health insurance will likely cover your medical bills, but you may not have a personal injury case that would withstand legal scrutiny.
2. A Premise Liability Case
If a business owner was negligent and is responsible for your accident and subsequent injuries, you may need help with your injury case.
You’ll want to hire a South Carolina personal injury lawyer who handles slip-and-fall accidents.
You may be eligible for compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages as well as other categories of damages.
An experienced lawyer can also help make sure you receive appropriate compensation to the maximum potential of the liability limits of the responsible property owner.
3. A Work-Related Injury
If you are injured on the job, you may be eligible for Worker’s Compensation.
But even if the employer accepts the claim and you begin to receive Worker’s Comp benefits for your work-related injury, it would be wise to schedule a consultation with a personal injury lawyer who can help you determine if you need additional help.
Property Owners Have Responsibilities
Property owners have a legal obligation called, “premises liability.” This means they have a responsibility to care for their property so that they try to prevent foreseeable injuries. This is why personal injury coverage is often part of liability insurance for property.
A property owner may be liable for an injury in certain cases such as when:
- There was a known spill that caused a slippery and potentially dangerous surface and it wasn’t cleaned up in a reasonable amount of time. Or there was no warning to people to alert them to avoid the slippery spill.
- There was a piece of loose carpeting that was an obvious trip hazard that was not corrected in a reasonable amount of time.
- There was a known uneven surface that was difficult for people to anticipate and there was no warning.
- There was a missing or broken step.
- There was a known lighting issue that contributed to the fall and injury.
Individuals Have Responsibilities
The person who fell may be responsible for the injury if it can be proven that the person was being careless. For example, if the injured person:
- Ignored warnings about a dangerous spot.
- Was in an area that was obviously roped off.
- Was distracted and not paying attention and missed obvious signs of danger.
If you are the unfortunate victim in a slip and fall case, the insurance company that has liability coverage for the property owner will ask you questions to determine if your carelessness contributed to your injury or illness.
Slip and Fall Lawsuit Process
Investigating the Slip and Fall Accident
How the accident occurred goes a long way toward determining who is responsible. Every witness to the accident should provide a witness statement, including the person who got injured. In addition, they should write down or record themselves saying what they saw and did.
Surveillance footage and audio recordings are also important. Statements may be incomplete or biased. Even if the accident itself was not recorded, videos of surrounding areas could help investigators understand what happened.
A doctor should examine the injured person’s body. If they need to be hospitalized, they should go to the hospital. The doctor should submit a statement or document outlining the person’s injuries and treatments.
If you may have been responsible or injured, you should hire a South Carolina personal injury lawyer. Google “slip and fall lawyer near me” to find one. This may sound excessive.
But a lawyer will remind you of your rights and expedite the liability process. They can examine documents, interview witnesses, and decide as to what happened.
Determining Slip and Fall Liability
Premises liability law is the area of law that covers slips and falls accidents in SC. It gives extensive rights to the victim. A property owner can be held responsible if one of three conditions are met.
The first is prior knowledge. The property owner may have known about the dangerous condition yet failed to correct it. Their failure may come as a deliberate choice or because they forgot to make reforms.
The second is reasonableness. The property owner should have known about the danger and then taken steps.
The third is causation. The property owner created the danger itself. For example, they may have ordered the victim to act dangerously or not know the victim.
Many decisions in liability cases come down to common sense. Reasonableness has to do with what the average person would do in response to a dangerous situation.
If a spill is on a floor, an average person would go and clean it up. That is a reasonable thing to do to avoid an accident. However, if the owner does not clean the spill, they may be liable.
But a jury will consider other factors. They will look at how long the dangerous situation existed. If the spill had appeared on the floor moments before the accident, the owner might not have had enough time to clean it up.
They will examine if the owner had regular procedures for inspecting their premises. If they did, they show a history of reasonable actions. This may make them more liable after an accident occurs.
As you might guess, the jury can take into account the responsibility of the injured person. This is because South Carolina follows a comparative negligence rule.
This means that a jury can limit compensation if the victim bears responsibility for the accident. If the injured person was the party most responsible, they might not receive compensation at all.
The jury will examine numerous factors when determining carelessness. First, they will look at warning signs posted around the area. If the victim ignored those signs, the jury would regard them as careless.
They will look at how the victim behaved leading up to the accident. For example, they may have been running or following improper procedures.
They can examine whether the victim was drinking or consuming drugs. Intoxication can make a person more prone to accidents.
Carelessness is another reason why you should hire a Columbia slip and fall attorney. Even if you are largely responsible for the accident, your attorney will point to the other party’s culpability. That will affect payout rates.
All of the above factors influence how a jury determines payments. But there are a few other factors to consider.
The jury will examine damages. They will look at the cost of medical bills and the victim’s lost income. They may add damages to personal property as well.
A jury may decide to increase compensation to cover pain and suffering. Nearly all victims of accidents experience stress and anxiety. A small amount of money may go to the victim to reflect their duress.
The clearer the monetary figures are, the more that they will influence the payment rates. If you are the victim, you should provide your medical bills and expense sheets. They may be the final piece the jury needs to award you money.
Looking for an Experienced Slip and Fall Lawyer in SC? We’re Here to Help
Determining responsibility for a slip and fall accident is difficult. First, an investigation into the accident must take place. Second, a jury must examine witness statements and documents.
Liability law provides strong protections for victims. For example, if a building owner acted unreasonably, they would be held accountable for an accident.
But South Carolina operates under comparative negligence. If the victim was responsible, a jury might decide against them. The jury will look at the damages and pain that the victim sustained.
Call our personal injury lawyer in Columbia SC as soon as a slip or fall accident occurs. That way you can avoid making any mistakes that might keep you from getting all the compensation you deserve.