If you slip and fall on someone else’s property, it may be unclear who is at fault and whether the property owner has any liability. Whether the slip and fall accident happened at a friend’s home, a shopping mall, a rental property, or even in a parking lot, the property owner may argue they took the proper safety precautions, you were careless and caused your own injuries, and they are not at fault.
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident, you will need to prove all the elements of your personal injury or premises liability claim in order to be compensated for your injuries. You’ll want to contact a slip and fall lawyer to help you with your case. While doing so, you should also be aware of what a property owner may claim to fight the case.
What You Have to Prove in a Premises Liability Case
A premises liability claim is an area of personal injury law that holds a property owner accountable for any injuries that occur on their property because of their negligence. If you are injured on someone else’s property, you will have to prove you were allowed or invited to be there, the owner had a duty to keep the property safe, and that the duty of care was breached.
You Were an Approved Visitor
The type of visitor you are at the time of the accident is critical in your premises liability case. You need to be an invitee, a licensee, or a social guest.
- Invitees are people invited onto the property for commercial purposes, such as a customer at a store.
- Licensees are people allowed onto a commercial property that are not considered invitees – this could be a vendor or salesperson.
- Social guests are similar to invitees but are limited to residential properties rather than businesses. This could be friends, family members, and neighbors invited over for a party or social gathering.
In each of these cases, the property owner has the responsibility to ensure their property is safe and free from dangerous conditions.
Property Owner Had a ‘Duty of Care’ to Keep the Property Safe
Duty of care means the property owner is required to act responsibly to avoid injuring other people. Let’s say you attend a weekly exercise class at your local gym. During the winter months, the gym owner has a responsibility to make sure the walkways are free from ice and snow – that is their duty of care.
Other examples of duty of care are fixing broken stairs, repairing cracked sidewalks, and closing large holes or gaps in the property to prevent injuries.
Duty of Care was Breached
When a duty of care is breached by a property owner, they can be held accountable for any injuries that occurred. Using the same gym example, if the property owner did not make the effort to clean the snow and ice from the walkways and you slipped and fell as you entered the gym, they breached their duty to provide a safe property for you as their visitor.
Even if you feel you have a strong case and can prove the owner was at fault in your premises liability case, the property owner may make their own claims to defend themselves.
What Arguments a Property Owner Can Make
You should be aware of the potential defense claims a property owner can make in a slip and fall case. Their priority is protecting their assets and will try to prove they were not at fault. The most common property owner defenses include lack of knowledge about a particular hazard, comparative negligence, and trespassing.
Lack of Knowledge
The owner claims a lack of knowledge about the hazard. This is the weakest defense for a slip and fall injury case. Property owners cannot merely claim ignorance of the hazard that caused the injury. As property owners, they are obligated to keep the property in a safe condition and inspect it regularly to ascertain its condition.
Even more, when a property owner finds a hazard that could become an issue for their visitors, they are required to notify their visitors. Groceries stores do this by using wet floor signage for spills, and home improvement retailers use barriers for aisles when team members are stocking shelves with heavy items.
Not knowing about a hazard is not a defense in a case unless the property owner exercised due diligence and could not reasonably have known about the hazard (for instance, a grocery store patron slips on liquid they spilled in the store, such that there was no time for the store owner to clean up the mess).
The owner claims the plaintiff was partially or fully responsible for their own injuries. Comparative negligence is the most common approach to a property owner’s defense. This is, potentially, a strong defense against an injury claim in a premises liability case.
The property owner will put the fault on the visitor making it hard for them to collect compensation for their injuries. If someone is wearing flip-flops, for example, during wet, slippery conditions and falls on a property, the owner can claim their choice of footwear contributed to the slip and fall, not the expected slippery conditions caused by the rain.
When someone trespasses on a property and is injured, the owner’s liability is reduced or even eliminated. Property owners do not owe the same duty of care to a trespasser as they do to a visitor. Property owners cannot, however, willfully injure or trap a trespasser. There are some exceptions to this defense, though. For example, if the property is known to have frequent trespassers and the owner is aware, the owner could be held liable.
Injured on Someone’s Property? Our Slip and Fall Lawyers Can Help.
An injured person has a right to recover their expenses, losses and damages related to the accident in the event of negligence on the part of the property owner. If you suffered injuries from a slip and fall on someone’s property, whether it’s at a store, friend’s house, or while visiting another public space, it’s important to get legal advice from a reputable law firm or a personal injury attorney like Georgelis Injury Law Firm.
At Georgelis Injury Law Firm, we have a team of experienced, professional, and aggressive slip and fall lawyers that represent clients in premises liability cases. We will launch a thorough investigation into the cause of your accident and gather the evidence necessary to support your claim.
Our team has handled more than 100 jury trials and thousands of hearings and other judicial hearings, and has recovered more than $60,000,000 for people injured in accidents and on the job. Call us today for a free initial consultation so we can help you recover losses due to your accident – 1-800-HURT-NOW!