If you have slipped and fallen due to someone else’s negligence, you might be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages through a “premises liability” claim. A fall injury can be expensive and debilitating, and proving someone else is liable for the incident isn’t always easy.
Here’s what you need to know about falls and premises liability claims.
What kinds of incidents might constitute a premises liability case?
According to the law in all states, businesses and many other public places (plus private homes in some cases) are required to provide safe establishments for customers, clients and guests. These businesses include: grocery stores, retail shops, shopping malls, hotels, cruise ships, restaurants/bars, sports stadiums, cultural arenas, and more.
Depending on the circumstances, private property owners may be held liable if, for example, they invited guests to a party but did not warn them about a dangerous area under construction. (Property owners can also be expected to keep patrons safe from dogs, so dog bites can also fall under the category of premises liability.)
Slip and fall accidents that may constitute a premises liability case include:
• Slipping on a wet floor where a “wet floor” sign was not displayed
• Tripping and falling on torn carpeting, uneven flooring, or a broken sidewalk
• Falling due to poorly lit areas or areas under construction
• Slipping on defective stairs that lack a handrail
• Falls due to building code violations
Do I have a case?
While businesses have a legal responsibility to keep the public safe, the public also has a responsibility to take reasonable precautions for their safety and to pay attention to their surroundings. So it’s certainly not possible to file a claim for every slip and fall injury.
To have a premises liability case in Arizona, it must be proven that the owner of the establishment caused the hazardous condition, knew about a dangerous condition but neglected to repair it, or should have known about it because it existed for a long period of time. As the injured party, you must be able to prove the hazard presented a significant risk that you could not have expected.
But there is a lot of gray area in determining reasonable precautions and unreasonable hazards. For example, the length of time the dangerous condition has been there is an important factor. Was the sidewalk broken for a day or six months? Was the slippery floor in the grocery store left unmarked for one minute or one hour?
Business owners cannot be expected to immediately fix everything, so lawyers, insurance companies and others will have to ask several questions. Can the property owner prove that he or she regularly maintains the property, or was he or she negligent about maintaining the establishment? Did the property display visible warning signs about the dangers? If an object was left on the floor where someone could trip over it, how long had it been there? Could it have been placed someplace safer?
There are no set rules for defining these issues, so they must be investigated on a case-by-case basis.
In addition, you’ll be asked several questions to determine whether you took reasonable safety precautions. Did you have a legitimate reason to be in the dangerous area? Did you adhere to safety procedures as communicated by the property owners, staff, or signage? Could you have noticed the danger and avoided it? Were you distracted by, say, texting while walking and didn’t notice the hazardous area?
How can an attorney help?
Because there is so much gray area, it is wise to consult with an experienced attorney if you think you have a premises liability case. An attorney will discuss the details of your accident and help determine if you have a case, plus ensure you are taking the right steps from the beginning.
To strengthen your case, attorneys will analyze surveillance cameras, witness accounts, medical records and the venue’s safety procedures. They will also review accident scenes for negligent security practices.
Attorneys take the stress out of claims by handling all the paperwork and communication with the insurance company and the potential liable party. This can be a huge help after you have been injured and are dealing with hospitals, physical therapy, recovery, and potential lost work.
The Lamber-Goodnow Personal Injury Law team does not charge for consultations. We only get paid if you get paid.
You don’t have to worry about losing anything if your case does not turn out well, and you don’t have to pay any money upfront. Plus, you’ll know we are working hard for you, since we won’t get paid if we don’t get results.
To find out what kind of compensation you might be entitled to in a personal injury case, read our article here.
To learn more about the steps in a personal injury case, click here.