Fault determination after a slip and fall accident: 6 things to know
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by Allen Brown
Slips and falls happen everywhere. You can take a tumble at home, you can trip on a sidewalk, and you can hit the ground while working. What you might not know is how much damage can be caused by that seemingly simple slip and fall and the resulting aftermath of events that surround an accident of such assumed insignificance.
Slipping on some wet ground may seem trivial, but it happens every day that workers or shoppers, or private citizens end up getting concussions, damaging a bone, or sustaining serious injuries. This is where it is exceptionally handy to know why an injury can be so bad and why you have to determine fault to make a claim, file a lawsuit, or receive compensation for any damages sustained.
Fault determination is one of the most integral aspects of any kind of personal injury case, all the way from a slip and fall up to a motor vehicle accident. Knowing what and who is at fault makes it much easier to navigate this minefield of legal jargon and expectations, so here are 6 things to know regarding a slip and fall if you ever need to make a claim or file for a lawsuit.
1. Who’s At Fault
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The first thing that has to be determined is who is at fault. This is the trickiest part because an accident is seemingly a random occurrence – or is it? Most accidents can be traced back to conscious decisions or indecisions, but more on that later, for now, you will see who may be at fault. Determining fault makes it easier to help formulate a claim and in essence, point the finger at the guilty. Use the word guilty lightly because it’s not always cut and dry with a slip and fall.
There are typically two main parties who can be considered at fault: you, the person who gets injured from falling, or the owner of the premises/property that this occurs on. You can be at fault for knowing that you could get hurt and you willingly engaged in behavior or took no duty of care to prevent a possible injury. The owner of the property or premises also has a duty of care to make sure that you are not hurt, which can get complicated. This is the first thing that is valuable to know about slip and fall accidents.
2. Was It Negligence or Intentional
This is where the waters start to get muddied. Some people believe that an accident is the result of the person who gets hurt, while others disagree that the owner of the property needs to handle it, but it’s a bit of both. Even then, it gets more confusing when discussing negligence or intent.
Negligence means that the owner or you are willfully aware that there is a puddle, ice, or a tripping hazard and yet do nothing to either remove a slipping hazard or walk into it knowing that there’s a chance to get hurt.
The intention is if the property owner or yourself is intending to cause an accident or intends to get hurt by tripping. It’s in cases like that where it’s good to lawyer up, and the legal information from https://the702firm.com/slip-fall-lawyer/ helps illuminate some of the concerns here. It’s surprising for many how intricate a slip and fall case can get, but it goes to show how much you may not know.
3. Evidence of the Injury
There’s also evidence that is undoubtedly required. Insurance claims adjusters, medical personnel, and legal teams are going to need to see evidence of the injuries sustained. A slip and fall could be as lowly as a scrape, which hardly constitutes a lawsuit in some instances, and sometimes it can result in broken bones or a concussion, which are obviously very serious injuries.
Determining fault doesn’t necessarily determine that the injuries are serious, but the factors of negligence and responsibility to provide a duty of care on-premises or property certainly can factor into how much damage could have been avoided by being safer.
4. Reasonableness vs. Carelessness
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Reasonableness helps determine factors that go into a successful negligence claim. Negligence, as you may remember, is when someone does not take into consideration the duty of care and responsibility to keep an area safe for any occupants. It can be determined that a property owner was responsible if they had safety standards in place to routinely check for accident-possible things like spills, tripping hazards, etc.
Carelessness can be a little different as someone who is walking through an area may display no regard for safety. If there are signs up did they still go through the area? Did the property owner put up signs to warn? It’s a tightrope to walk between who is showing responsibility and what level of carelessness could have prevented or exacerbated the problem.
5. Extent of Injuries
Going back to providing evidence, the extent of injuries is going to be apparent and investigated. A slip and fall can incur serious bodily harm, but there is still a need to examine how possible it was. Tripping on a cord that is in front of sharp objects would obviously indicate a high probability of harm, while a puddle on a non-slip floor might not be indicative of a possible serious injury. Regardless, the extent of injuries does play into the role of how much the negligence of the parties involved could have prevented such an injury in the first place.
6. How a Slip and Fall Accident is Settled
Lastly, it’s good to know how these cases are settled. Not everything ends in a courtroom with shouting matches between prosecution and defense. In all reality, they are usually settled by a claim out of court that helps compensate for damages (medical bills, lost wages). The amount of fault will obviously sway the favor in one direction or another, but an insurance claim is often the path to resolving a slip and fall accident.
It’s hard to imagine that tripping at work could result in a multi-thousand dollar settlement, but freak accidents of seemingly small nature happen every day that can hurt people seriously. It’s good to know what fault determination is just to be prepared if it ever does occur to you.