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How do you prove negligence after a slip-and-fall?

| Aug 7, 2015 | Premises Liability |

A serious slip-and-fall can lead to severe injuries, which may then be followed by steep medical bills. For good reason, you may be considering a premises liability claim if you are in this situation now. Before you take the next step, though, it may be helpful to have a better idea of what it takes to prove that someone else’s negligence caused your injuries.

When proving negligence in a slip-and-fall, you must ask a few questions about the property owner’s role in the incident. Could they have prevented it? Did they take steps to keep their property reasonably safe? Did they know about a hazard and fail to address it? The answers to these questions and more will help determine whether the property owner is liable for your injuries.

Proving 1 of 3 scenarios

Let’s imagine that you were injured after slipping on a box of spilled marbles in a toy store. For a premises liability claim to be successful, you have to prove one of three things:

  • The property owner or an employee knew about the spilled marbles and did nothing to clean them up.
  • A reasonable person would have known about the spilled marbles, so the property owner or the employees should have known about them even if they did not.
  • The property owner or an employee caused the spill or otherwise created conditions that allowed for the spill to happen.

The second point is the most commonly litigated because most property owners know to keep their spaces reasonably safe. Proving this, however, is not easy.

What is reasonable?

Let’s say that we are trying to prove that someone should have known about the hazard in our spilled marbles scenario. There are several factors that go into showing that the property owner or an employee should have known, including:

  • Time: In other words, how long the marbles had been on the floor. Did the spill just happen and the property owner hadn’t had time to clean it up yet? Or were the marbles there for a few hours?
  • Reason for the hazard: Was there a reason for the hazard to be where it was? In this case, probably not. But if you had tripped over something else — like a crate — there may have been a valid reason for it to be where it was.
  • The owner’s maintenance routine: Does the owner inspect the premises daily for hazards? Every few hours? Can they prove it? This information can help with your claim.

Proving that someone should have known about a hazard is not easy. But it is also not impossible. If you think have a case, it would be wise to speak to an attorney.

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