Fall cause thousands of injuries every year, and property owners often can be held liable for these injuries. Wet floors, rough ground, or faulty stairs are a few of the many causes of slip and fall accidents, but the property owner may not always be held liable for these conditions. Learn when a property owner may be held responsible for injuries, and when they cannot be held responsible.
Determining Liability for Falls
There are several facts that must be proven true if the property owner is to be held liable for the accident. These facts are:
- The owner of the premises or an employee must have caused the dangerous surface underfoot. This can include a spill, worn or torn flooring, or another hazardous surface.
- The individual responsible knew of the conditions but did nothing to amend the problem.
- The owner of the premises or an employee should have known of the dangerous surface because a “reasonable” person taking care of the property should have noticed the hazard and taken steps to fix the problem.
The property owner or employee’s actions to fix the problem can lessen the chances that they are found liable for the accident. Judges and juries take into account any actions taken to reduce the risk posed by the hazard. If there have been steps taken to take care of the problem, it is possible that the property owner may not be liable, as they were not negligent in attempting to decrease the risk.
When it comes to negligence claims, such as a premises liability claim, it is highly important to determine whether the property owner acted in a manner that could be called “reasonable.” This can take some assumption on the part of the judges or the jury, but there is a legal definition of reasonable behavior in negligence cases. If the owner takes steps to regularly and thoroughly clean and make repairs to the property, it is likely their actions will be considered reasonable.
There are a number of factors that may be considered when evaluating the owner’s actions for reasonableness. These can include:
- The length of time the dangerous spot was there, and if the owner could have been aware.
- If the property owner has a routine for cleaning and maintaining the premises, and the proof of the routine.
- If there was a purpose to a hazardous object being left or placed on the floor.
- If the object posing a tripping hazard could have been moved or otherwise made safe.
- If the object could have been located in a safer place, without much expense to relocate the object.
- If a barrier or warning was present to protect people.
- If poor or broken lighting contributed to the accident.
Judges account for many contributing factors and will determine if adequate care has been taken to protect people from the hazard. If the judge determines that there wasn’t enough done to make the premises safe, they may be considered negligent. If the property owner is found to be negligent, it is likely that you will be able to recover compensation for your injuries.
In Louisiana, there are laws regarding comparative fault. If an injured person is at least partially responsible for their injuries, the amount of compensation they are able to receive is reduced. If they are found to be 25% at fault for their injuries, they will only be able to receive 75% of the total amount of damages that are determined. You may not have to prove that you were careful, but your statement to the insurance adjuster may indicate that you have some responsibility for your own injuries.
An experienced premises liability attorney may be able to help you protect your claim. They can guide you through the process of making a claim, and will help you to protect your case. Your lawyer should offer you strong advocacy and a vast knowledge of premises liability law.