Knowledge Of The Hazard — Key To Liability When You Slip And Fall
When you slip and fall on someone else's property, you may be able to sue them for compensation to fully recover from your injuries. However, to do this, you must prove that they were negligent. The property owner is not automatically liable if there was no negligence. So, how can you demonstrate that they were indeed negligent? A key component is that they were legally aware of the danger. Here are the three ways that may happen.
1. They Knew of the Danger
If a property owner is aware that there is a hazardous condition on their property, then they are negligent if they fail to address it. If the owner of a store saw employees mopping up the floor without any cautionary signage, the owner clearly knew about the hazard and failed to do anything about it. Even though the employees were the ones who actually made the mess, the owner is ultimately responsible.
2. They Created the Danger
The easiest situation in which to show that the owner knew of the danger is when they created it themselves.
Perhaps you entered the retail store and noticed the owner mopping up. They left the job half-done to greet you. In this scenario, it's easy to show that they knew about the wet floor. Cameras and other witnesses, including employees, can help you establish that the owner was at least involved in if not responsible for the danger.
3. They Should Have Known of the Danger
Sometimes, you can neither prove that the owner knew about the danger nor that they participated in creating it. Are you out of luck? No. You may be able to prove that it's reasonable that they should have known about it. How does this work?
Consider the wet store floor again. Perhaps there is one spot in the ceiling that has been leaking when it rains. The problem has persisted all winter long, as testified to by employees. You fall on the water during a rainstorm outside. The owner doesn't necessarily need to know about this particular wet spot — because a reasonable person would agree that they should have known. This may be enough to declare them liable.
Where to Start
How difficult will it be to prove one of these three things in your slip and fall case? Find out — and get help doing so — by meeting with a slip and fall attorney in your state today.