Houston Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer
Its difficult to prove who is at fault for slip and fall accidents. Thousands of people each year are injured, many seriously, from slipping and falling on a floor, stairs, or other surfaces.Even ground that has become uneven to a dangerous degree can lead to severe injuries. However, sometimes it may be difficult to prove that the owner of the property is responsible for a slip and fall accident.
Could the Property Owner Have Prevented the Accident?
If you or a loved one has been in a slip and fall accident, it may be tempting to seek out justice. Possibly, in the form of a lawsuit. But stop and ask this question first: If the property owner was more careful, could the accident have been avoided?
For example, lets say a leaky roof leads to a slippery condition that you slip and fall on. The property owner may not be responsible for your injuries if there was a drainage grate in the floor designed to limit slippery conditions. In addition, property owners will not always be responsible for things that a reasonable person would have avoided. This includes such as tripping over something that would normally be in that location (like a leaf rake on a lawn in the fall). Every person has a responsibility to be aware of their surroundings and make efforts to avoid dangerous conditions.
Property Owner’s Duty to Maintain Reasonably Safe Conditions
However, this is not to say that property owners are never held responsible for the injuries of others that slipped and fell on their property. There is not a cut-and-dried rule. Although, property owners must take reasonable steps to ensure that their property is safe. However, this reasonableness is often balanced against the care that the person that slipped and fell should have used. What follows are some guidelines that courts and insurance companies use when determining fault in slip and fall accidents.
Liability for Slip and Fall Accidents
If you involved in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property because of a dangerous condition, you will likely need to be able to show one of the following in order to win a case for your injuries:
- Either the property owner or his employee should have known of the dangerous condition because another, “reasonable” person in his or her position would have known about the dangerous condition and fixed it.
- The property owner or his employee actually did know about the dangerous condition but did not repair or fix it.
- Either the property owner or his employee caused the dangerous condition (spill, broken flooring, etc.).
Many property owners are, in general, pretty good about the upkeep on their premises. The first situation is most often the one that is litigated. However, the first situation is also the most tricky to prove because of the words “should have known.” After presenting your evidence and arguments, it will be up to the judge or jury to decide whether the property owner should have known about the slippery step that caused you to fall.
See Economic Recovery for Accidents and Injuries to learn more about the types of damages you may be able to claim in a slip-and-fall lawsuit. To get a ballpark figure of what your case may be worth, take a look at our Worksheet: Damage Estimate.
In a case, that you are demonstrating the property owner being liable for injuries, you will need to display the the reasonableness of the property owner’s actions. See Standards of Care and the “Reasonable” Person to learn more. There are some questions your attorney will need to discuss before the case. Here are some to get you started:
- How long had the defect been present before your accident? In other words, has the leaking roof over the stairwell had been leaking for the past three months? If so, then it was less reasonable for the owner to allow the leak to continue. If the leak had just started the night before, and the landlord was only waiting for the rain to stop. This would be reasonable in injury prevention.
- What kinds of daily cleaning activities does the property owner engage in? If the property owner claims that he or she inspects the property daily, what kind of proof can he or she show to support this claim?
- Did your accident involved tripping over something left on the floor or in another place? Was there a legitimate reason for that object to be there?
- If your slip and fall accident involved tripping over something that was left on the floor that once had a legitimate reason for being there. Did the legitimate reason still exist at the time of your accident? For example, tripping over a can of paint in a living room is probably not reasonable. Especially, if the last time the room had been painted was over 2 years ago.
Most states follow the rule of comparative negligence when it comes to slip and fall accidents. This means that if you, in some way, contributed to your own accident your compensation could be less. For example, you were talking on your cell phone and not paying attention to a warning sign. In this instance, your award would be reduced by the amount that you were comparatively at fault. See Defenses to Negligence Claims for information about comparative negligence.
Like researching the liability of the property owner, there are some questions that you can ask of yourself to estimate how likely it is that you will be found to be comparatively negligent:
- Did you have a legitimate reason for being on the property owner’s premises when the accident happened? Should the owner have anticipated you, or someone in a similar situation to you, being there?
- Would person of reasonable caution in the same situation have noticed and avoided the dangerous condition? Would they have handled the condition in a way that would have lessened the chances of slipping and falling? For example, holding onto the handrail while going down icy stairs?
- Did the property owner erect a barrier or give warning of the dangerous condition that led to your slip and fall accident?
- Were you engaging in any activities that contributed to your slip and fall accident? Examples include: running around the edges of pools, texting while walking, jumping or skipping, attempting to ice skate while in your business shoes, etc.
Have you have been talking with the insurance company about a possible settlement for your injuries? They will likely ask many similar questions. Although you will not have to prove to the insurance company that you were extremely careful. You will probably have to show enough so that the insurance company can conclude that you were not acting negligently.
Where Can I Get a Free Initial Case Review?
If you have been hurt in a slip-and-fall accident, contact Walker Texas Lawyer today. Because of statutes of limitations which limit the time a person has to bring an injury lawsuit, you should act quickly. Walker Texas Lawyer has extensive experience handling slip and fall cases. For a free case evaluation contact our office today at 713-552-1117. And remember our guarantee, THERE’S NO FEE IF YOU DON’T WIN!