If you were injured in a slip and fall accident at a local business, you may think that the business is automatically responsible for your medical care and pain and suffering. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. Determining fault can be much more complicated than simply blaming the entity that owns the location. The following guide can help you better understand how fault is assigned.

Proving Negligence

One of the two situations below must be proven in order to show negligence:

  • A hazardous condition existing which the business owner or an employee should have attended to. For example, did the business fail to place a warning sign on a loose stair rail, or block off a broken door?

  • An employee or business owner were the direct cause of the hazardous condition. For example, did they fail to pick up tools after repairing something or mop but put up no wet floor warnings?

The first situation can be the trickiest to prove, since you and your lawyer must show that it is reasonable for the business owner to have known about the hazardous situation. If you slip on icy steps, it is up to you to show that it is reasonable for the business to have been aware of the issue and worked to remedy it by the time you arrived and slipped. In some cases, the court may decide that the steps iced up too quickly for the owner to have responded before your accident.

One way to combat this is to request maintenance logs from the business. Often, maintenance complaints are logged in some manner to ensure they are responded to. Showing that the owner was aware of the conditions that led to the accident can help prove their liability.

Contributory Fault

Another issue you can run into is contributory fault. This occurs when it is determined that you share some of the blame for the accident. For example, if you rough housing with a friend when you slip on the ice, the court may decide that the accident could have been prevented if you weren't distracted. They may assign partial fault to you. Depending on the state and local laws, you may only be awarded the percentage of which the owner is found to be at fault, or you may forfeit the entire settlement if you are found even slightly at fault.

Contact a slip and fall attorney if you have had an accident. They can help you build your case so that you can prove fault and get the settlement you deserve.

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