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When Does a Slip and Fall Become a Personal Injury Case?
Slip and fall accidents can happen virtually anywhere, from stairways to parking lots. In many cases, property owners are at fault for failing to make expected and reasonable repairs to their property. When they fail to provide the proper upkeep, it can put visitors, residents, or customers in danger. While you may adamantly believe that your injury was caused by a property owner’s negligence, this is not enough to win your case. You must also provide compelling evidence and proof that they are at fault for your slip and fall incident. From the personal injury lawyers at Paine Edmonds LLP who are well-versed in helping you with your slip and fall accident claims, here are some items to consider when you’re filing for a slip and fall claim.
Property Owner’s Duty to Maintain Reasonably Safe Conditions
Property owners must take reasonable steps to ensure that their property is free from dangerous conditions that would cause a person to slip and fall. However, this reasonableness is often balanced against the care that the person that slipped and fell should have used. What follows are some guidelines that courts and insurance companies use when determining fault in slip and fall accidents.
In order to assess liability of a property owner for slip and fall injuries, the reasonableness of the property owner’s actions need to be considered. In order to help you with this situation, below are questions to think through:
- How long had the defect been present before your accident? In other words, if the leaking roof over the stairwell had been leaking for the past three months, then it was less reasonable for the owner to allow the leak to continue than if the leak had just started the night before and the landlord was only waiting for the rain to stop in order to fix it.
- What kinds of regular maintenance does the property owner engage in? If the property owner claims that he or she inspects the property daily, what kind of proof can he or she show to support this claim?
- If the accident involved tripping over something that was left on the floor or in another place, was there a legitimate reason for that object to be there?
- If the accident involved tripping over something that was left on the floor that once had a legitimate reason for being there, did the legitimate reason still exist at the time of your accident? For example, tripping over a can of paint in a living room is probably not reasonable if the last time the room had been painted was over a month ago and the owner had no immediate plans to repaint the room.
- Was there any warning of a hazardous situation? If there is a dripping roof that could not be immediately repaired, was there a bucket underneath it with a warning sign beside it?
If, in some way, you contributed to your own accident (for example, you were talking on your cell phone and not paying attention to a warning sign), your award for your injuries and other damages may be lessened by the amount that you were comparably at fault.
Proving Liability in Your Slip & Fall Case
To hold a property owner responsible, you need to prove that:
- Owner of the premises was aware or should have reasonably been aware of the hazard
- Owner of the premises failed to make appropriate adjustments to prevent injury
- You acted in a reasonable and expected manner when the injury occurred
The last aspect of a slip and fall claim is one that people often overlook. Even if an owner was aware of a hazard and did not make any changes, if you were acting recklessly or negligently on the property, you may not have a valid claim. For example, if you were not using common sense when the slip and fall occurred, it could be ruled that you contributed to or fully caused your injuries and therefore cannot be compensated.
On the other hand, an owner may be held responsible if they fail to make reasonable changes to their property. For example, if there is pothole right in front of the entrance to their store that could lead to injuries, they are reasonably expected to fix it. If they fail to make repairs and injuries occur from this issue, they may be considered liable for your damages.
If you can prove liability of the property owner for your slip and fall accident injuries, your claim may be for the following compensation:
- Pain and suffering damages (for loss of your enjoyment of life)
- Loss of future earnings (financial loss due to the inability to work, reduced earning capacity and loss of future opportunity)
- Future care costs (medical care, rehabilitation and other future costs including nursing or attendant care beyond what is available from accident benefits)
- Housekeeping and Homemaking Services
- Compensation for family members affected by your injuries (for cost of services you provided and the loss of care, guidance and companionship they have suffered)
Book an Appointment with Paine Edmonds LLP, Personal Injury Lawyers in Vancouver
If you have incurred a slip and fall accident, it is important to speak to a personal injury lawyer to determine if you have a viable case for compensation. Our slip and fall accident lawyers in Vancouver provide a free initial consultation and we don’t charge legal fees for slip and fall accidents unless we win compensation for you. Contact us today to arrange your appointment with a Vancouver lawyer at our firm.