The Difficulties of Proving Slip and Fall Claims

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Difficulties of Proving Slip and Fall Claims

Proving someone is responsible for injuries sustained in a slip and fall accident is not simple. While thousands of individuals are injured in these accidents each year – some seriously – not all of these individuals are able to file claims. Under Illinois law, slip and fall claims fall under the classification of negligence law. To prove someone else was liable for your injury, you must first establish that they owed a duty of care and that they breached that duty.

Determining Liability

Sometimes the property owner is not responsible for a slip and fall injury; another party could be liable, such as the manager, the company responsible for maintaining the premises, or a combination of parties. In order for someone to be legally held accountable for your injuries, one of the following must be present:

  • The owner or an employee working for the property owner must have caused the dangerous surface that resulted in your slip and fall accident.
  • The owner or their employee must have known the dangerous surface existed and failed to respond.
  • The owner or their employee should have known about the dangerous surface and exercised a “reasonable” duty to discover and rectify that hazard before it caused injury to another.

What is a “Reasonable” Duty?

The law is unclear as to what specifically constitutes reasonable conduct. It is purposely vague so that the circumstances of the injury can be compared subjectively. However, one thing that is clear under negligence law is that the defendant must have failed to act within a reasonable manner, and the plaintiff must prove that the defendant did not attempt regular or thorough efforts to maintain their property and prevent dangerous zones.

Some examples can include:

  • You trip over a torn or bulging section of carpet. Upon looking at the tear, you can tell that it has been there for some time; therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the property owner was aware of the tear and failed to do anything about it.
  • You have slipped on an object that was left in a walkway. If there is a legitimate reason for that object to be there, the owner may not be considered liable. But, if that same object could have reasonably been placed out of the walkway in a safer area, the owner is liable.
  • You slip on a wet surface, but a “wet floor” sign was present. The owner took precautions to clean up the spill and notify those passing by of the potential danger. In this instance, they took reasonable steps to prevent an accident. You may still have a claim, but the modified comparative negligence laws may reduce your compensation, as long as you were 50 percent or less at fault for your own injuries.

Defenses to Slip and Fall Injuries

The defendant will attempt to prove that your own carelessness caused – or at least contributed to – the accident. Because Illinois has adopted the modified comparative negligence rule, they will attempt to measure your own level of reasonableness in determining what you did, how you did it, and if you at all contributed to the injury. Some defenses under comparative negligence that may be brought to court include:

  • You had no legitimate reason to be in the area in which you were injured, such as being in a restricted access area.
  • A careful individual would have noticed the dangerous spot and avoided it or walked carefully enough to avoid injury.
  • A sign was placed to warn you about potential injuries, but you ignored it.
  • You were doing something that distracted you from paying attention, making a fall more likely.

Proving Liability Requires an Attorney – Contact Malman Law

If you were injured in a slip and fall injury, do not let the defense use comparative negligence to discredit your claim. By describing your case clearly to an insurance adjuster, you can prove that you were not acting careless and that the property owner (or other party) was responsible. Because proving these cases are difficult, it is best that you speak to a personal injury attorney. Contact Malman Law online or call 888-625-6265 now to schedule a free consultation on your slip and fall case.

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