Proving Negligence in a Slip and Fall Accident
Slip and falls are a leading cause of personal injuries in Virginia and across the country. While premises liability laws vary from state to state, you may be entitled to compensation if you can prove someone’s negligent acts were responsible for your injuries.
Statistics from the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) indicate that roughly one million people each year visit hospital emergency rooms as the result of slip and fall accidents.
Injuries that result from these accidents cost victims roughly $13 million in medical expenses, according to the NFSI.
Slip and fall accidents often occur due to:
- Wet, slippery floors
- Blocked or obstructed aisles
- Uneven steps, tile or carpeting at entrances and exits
- Stairwells that are poorly lit or lack handrails
- Walkways with uneven or missing stones.
The above are examples of negligence, which is defined as doing something a reasonable person would not do under similar circumstances or failing to take certain actions that a reasonable person would take.
How Do You Prove a Property Owner’s Negligence?
Premises liability involves the duty of care property owners owe to certain visitors to their property.
In some states, the property owner’s duty depends on the status of the visitor. For instance, the duty owed to “invitees” may be higher than the duty owed to mere licensees (while only a duty to refrain from wantonly or willfully inflicting injury is owed to trespassers).
An example of an invitee would be a customer at a property owner’s store. An example of a licensee would be a social guest at a person’s home or a door-to-door salesman.
Typically, if you filed a lawsuit after a slip and fall in a Virginia city such as Fredericksburg, you would need to show that that the property owner, manager or one of its agents knew or should have known of a potentially dangerous condition and failed to take the steps to either fix it or warn visitors to the property regarding the danger.
Evidence used in these types of cases includes:
- Incident reports from the accident scene
- Statements from witnesses who may have seen the accident occur
- Photos or video tape evidence showing the accident or the conditions leading up to it
- Bills, letters, receipts, and other types of evidence showing that the property owner previously attempted to address or repair the dangerous condition or the cause of the condition (establishing that the owner knew about the risks that visitors faced).
Addition, as you moved forward with a slip and fall lawsuit, your attorney would need to provide evidence of the damages you suffered due to the property owner’s negligence.
This evidence could include medical records, bills and receipts, diagnostic test results, statements from medical care providers regarding your condition and prognosis for recovery and statements from your employer regarding lost wages and how your injuries impact your ability to perform tasks at your job.