How does a skilled personal injury attorney approach a slip and fall case? Before they do anything else, the attorney must decide whether you have a valid claim. And that means they need to determine whether another party’s negligence resulted in your injuries.
If you are wondering what negligence is, you probably aren’t alone. While many people may use the term in common parlance, it has a specific legal definition that is considered in any slip and fall claim. Proving negligence is the most important step in proving a slip and fall case.
The Basics of Negligence in Personal Injury Law
Before you understand how negligence applies to slip and fall lawsuits, you need to understand how it applies to personal injury law in general. This matters because most personal injury cases, including slip and fall injuries, involve negligence.
To determine whether negligence was involved in your case, your attorney will consider the four factors that make up negligence:
The Other Party Had a Duty of Care
“Duty of care” means that the other party was required by law to take appropriate actions to protect your safety. Sometimes, the duty of care is explicit, like the duty a nurse has to protect a patient. At other times, it is implicit, like the duty of a driver to avoid hitting pedestrians.
The Other Party Violated That Duty
Imagine that a driver hit a pedestrian because they were texting while driving. By taking their eyes off the road, they were being careless in a way that violated their duty to protect others.
That Violation Resulted in Your Injury
If another party’s careless, reckless, or intentional action led to an injury, this criteria has been met. For example, suppose that a pedestrian hit by a careless driver suffers a serious back injury and requires emergency medical care and weeks of physical therapy.
The Injuries You Suffered Resulted in Significant Losses
In civil law, losses are almost always measured financially. Thus, if your injury required only some ice and a few hours of rest, you probably didn’t suffer significant financial losses. However, if you require long-term medical treatment and can’t go to work for a month, those losses are more than significant enough to qualify.
Duty of Care in Slip and Fall Cases
In a slip and fall case, the duty of care typically belongs to the owner of the building or business where you slipped. Anyone who freely admits the public (like a business) has a duty to ensure the public is safe while on their premises.
Similarly, employers also have a duty of care toward their employees. Just because the public doesn’t enter an area of the workplace doesn’t mean the employer can allow it to be a safety hazard.
Documenting Dangerous Conditions and Owner Knowledge
If you slip and fall, one of the first things you should do is document the dangerous condition that caused your injury. With your smartphone, take a picture of the condition as close to the time of the fall as possible. This photo could provide your personal injury lawyer with the evidence they need to support your case.
Slip and fall accident attorneys will also need evidence that the owner was aware of the danger or should have been aware. Your lawyer might have to do some research to find this evidence.
However, if the owner tries to get you to sign something that absolves them of liability, don’t sign it. Instead, keep a copy. Your lawyer might be able to use the document to show that the owner knew there was a danger.
Challenges and Considerations in Proving Negligence
Typically, the biggest challenge in proving negligence is showing that you weren’t responsible for your injuries. An opposing lawyer might claim you ignored warning signs or were being reckless. This is why it is so important to document the scene after a fall.
Thankfully, your attorney also has an advantage. An owner doesn’t have to be aware of a hazard to be considered negligent. If they should have been aware and didn’t appropriately inspect their property for hazards, that also counts as a violation of a duty of care.
Do Most Slip and Fall Cases Settle out of Court?
Yes. In most slip and fall negligence cases, the lawyer will present the evidence they collected to the insurance company. The company will likely offer a settlement rather than risk a court case. If it is a fair offer, your lawyer will recommend that you accept it.
How Long Do I Have to File a Slip and Fall Lawsuit?
The Rhode Island statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is three years. That doesn’t mean your case will finish within three years; it just means you have to file your lawsuit with the court before three years have passed.
Can I Get Money if I Was Partially Responsible for My Injury?
According to Rhode Island civil procedures, if you are partially responsible for your injury, you can still seek compensation. Your award can be reduced proportionally to how much you are responsible for your injury. This is another advantage you have in a slip and fall case in Rhode Island.
Contact a Slip and Fall Lawyer at Sands Law Immediately
Have you been seriously hurt in a slip and fall case in Rhode Island? You might deserve compensation for the harm you suffered. Contact Sands Law today to schedule a free case evaluation where a personal injury lawyer will review whether negligence was a factor in your injury.
Recover more compensation. Save time. Worry less. Leave it to the experts at Sands Law to help you. It’s what we’re here for.