Accidents happen every day and, in many cases, they are just that. Often, things happen that are an accident that no one could have prevented. However, some accidents include negligence, which means that the property owner could have prevented the accident had they acted accordingly.
Proving negligence in a slip and fall accident is important to be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. For there to be fault assigned in a slip and fall accident, there must be negligence.
It’s best to get counsel from a personal injury attorney to learn whether you have a slip and fall case where the property owner was negligent. But to guide you in the process, we’ll explain negligence, how to prove negligence, and steps you should take after a claim to protect your right to pursue a lawsuit.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence is when a person fails to take proper or reasonable care in a matter. When it comes to a slip and fall accident, there are four main areas that you and your attorney will evaluate.
- The property owner had a duty of care toward you. For this to apply, you must be welcomed on the property as a guest or invitee. Trespassers only have minimal rights in this area since they are un-welcomed and unexpected on the property. The only way a trespasser’s injuries on a property might be covered is if a property owner intentionally set up traps designed to harm trespassers.
- The property owner breached their duty of care toward the property guests. This can be taking poor actions or failure to take action. To determine whether the property owner took appropriate precautions and acted in a reasonable timeframe, the courts will use the “reasonable person” measure. Under this measure, they work to prove whether or not the average reasonable person would have acted in the same manner if put in that situation. It’s not an entirely black and white scenario as it is still completely dependent on the situation.
- The property owner’s breached duty of care caused your injuries. There must be a causal connection between your injuries and the property owner’s failure to uphold their duty of care.
- The victim sustained damages as a result of the breached duty of care. Even if you slip and fall on someone else’s property, if you aren’t injured and don’t need medical care as a result of the accident, there are no damages to pursue from the property owner. You must sustain damages to be able to pursue a slip and fall lawsuit.
How to Prove Negligence
To prove negligence in your slip and fall accident in Indiana, your attorney will present facts and details that prove that a reasonable person would have been able to prevent the accident. The details might include any of the following:
- Length of time a spill was present on the premises, meaning that if the property owner did not know the hazard was present, they should have known if they were doing proper rounds and making preventative measures.
- The property owner’s prior knowledge of an ongoing hazard, such as a leaking freezer or rotted wood on steps.
- Preventative property maintenance measures the owner should have been taking to prevent the accident from taking place.
Your attorney might compare property maintenance practices at the property where your accident took place to those of other similar businesses. This can show that the type of accident you sustained was preventable if the property owner had taken similar maintenance measures.
Steps You Should Take After a Slip and Fall Accident
After a slip and fall accident, there are several steps you should take to protect your ability to seek legal action if you later discover that you need to do so or want to do so. If you miss some of these steps, don’t worry. You should still discuss the matter with a slip and fall attorney to review whether you have a personal injury case.
- Get medical treatment immediately. If you believe you’ve been seriously injured, call 911 and go to the hospital in the ambulance. Otherwise, you can visit your doctor within the next 24-48 hours to document your injuries.
- Report the accident to the property owner or on-duty manager. Ask for a copy of the accident report so you can provide it to your attorney to give your attorney all the facts and proof of the accident.
- Take photos of the scene. This will help show what happened and might help prove negligence in your case. Photos can make it evident that the dangerous conditions were left longer than they should have been.
- Do not make any statements without your attorney present. The property owner might want to discuss the accident with you in detail. Refrain from doing so without your attorney present.
- Collect contact information for any witnesses. This will help provide testimony in court to offer proof of what happened on the scene.
- Discuss the accident with an attorney. You’ll have many questions after a slip and fall accident. An attorney can walk you through the next steps and help protect your ability to pursue a lawsuit against the property owner if you choose to do so.
Stewart & Stewart is a team of expert personal injury attorneys. We have vast experience in slip and fall cases and can protect your rights and ensure you recover financially from an accident that wasn’t your fault. Schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.