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Elements of a Slip and Fall Case

Posted on behalf of Stephens, Anderson & Cummings on Jan 16, 2018 in Slip & Fall Accidents

slip and fall downstairsAlthough many people suffer slips and falls on private, public or business property, having a valid legal claim requires more than the fall itself. To recover monetary damages, the victim must have evidence to prove liability against the negligent party.

The Fort Worth slip and fall accident attorneys at Stephens, Anderson & Cummings can help you establish the elements of your personal injury claim. During a free consultation, we can evaluate the details of your claim to help ensure we can successfully establish the following elements in your slip and fall case:

1. An Unsafe Condition Existed on the Property

Property owners have a duty to maintain a safe property. Before a personal injury victim can recover compensation, he or she must establish that an unsafe condition created a risk of harm to guests who were legally on the property. This risk must be foreseeable by the property owner.

Additionally, the property owner must have notice of the unsafe condition. Notice may be one of two types:

  • Actual – The property owner knew about the dangerous condition.
  • Constructive – The owner should have known about the problem.

To determine if a property owner knew or should have known about a dangerous condition, a court may consider what the industry standards are. The court may also evaluate what other reasonable business owners would have known under the same circumstances.

Courts and insurance adjusters can consider various factors to determine if the property owner should have been aware of a defect on the property, such as:

  • The length of time that the hazardous condition was present
  • Whether the property owner routinely checked the property for potential problems
  • The procedures the property owner had in place to check for hazards
  • Whether the dangerous condition could have been less hazardous through preventative measures like placing a warning sign

Potential unsafe conditions on the premises that a property owner may have a duty to correct include:

  • Slippery floors
  • Uneven flooring
  • Sidewalks with serious defects
  • Potholes
  • Debris on store floors
  • Ice or snow buildup

If the property owner failed to warn others about these problems or did not take steps to correct them, he or she may be held liable for the damages the victim suffered.

2. The Victim Was Legally on the Property

Another element the victim must be able to establish with the help of his or her personal injury attorney is that the victim was legally on the property. The status of the victim at the time of the slip and fall can affect the duties the property owner legally owed the victim. The three types of visitors to a property are:

Invitee

An invitee is a person who is on the property usually for the financial benefit of the property owner, such as a customer in a restaurant or a tenant in an apartment building. If the property is a business, and therefore the business owner is potentially profiting from the invitee’s presence on the property, then the property owner usually owes an invitee the highest duty of care. This means it is the property owner’s responsibility to correct any hazards on the property or to properly warn the invitee of potential hazards.

Licensee

A licensee is a guest, such as a friend, who is legally on the property. The duty that a property owner owes to a licensee is to warn him or her of known or potential dangers on the property. This duty applies only to those unsafe conditions that the guest would be unlikely to see or avoid.

Trespasser

A trespasser is someone who is not on the property legally. Property owners owe limited duties to trespassers due to this unlawful status. The only duty a property owner owes to a trespasser is to not intentionally try to harm the trespasser.

3. The Victim Suffered Injuries

The third required element of a slip and fall case is that the victim suffered injuries. There must be a direct link between the injuries and the property owner’s negligence in not maintaining the property.

Seeking medical treatment after a slip and fall accident can help establish this link between the injury and the fall. Victims may be able to recover compensation for the physical, mental and financial harm they sustained as a result of the injury.

Contact a Lawyer for Assistance

At Stephens, Anderson & Cummings, we know how valuable your time is. During your free consultation, we can explain whether your slip and fall accident had all of the necessary elements described above. We will then discuss how best to move forward with your case.

We work on a contingency fee basis, so we only get paid if we help you recover compensation for your accident. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with a slip and fall accident lawyer.

Fill out our Free Case Evaluation form or call (877) 920-9009 to have our law team review your claim.