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Everyone falls down sometimes—it’s just part of life. However, it’s important to understand that when we talk about slip-and-fall accidents, we’re not talking about a skinned knee. We’re talking about the kind of injuries with the potential to turn someone’s life upside down.
If you’ve ever been in a serious falling accident, you know how devastating they can be. In addition to the physical injuries, you may face harsh financial consequences, such as medical debt, lost wages and more. That’s a lot to deal with alone, especially if you didn’t cause the accident. Fortunately, that’s not your only option.
As personal injury attorneys, it’s our job to ensure accident victims don’t continue to suffer the consequences of another person’s mistake. If you’ve sustained serious injuries in a slip-and-fall accident caused by someone else, you shouldn’t be footing the bill for your recovery.
The first step to securing the compensation you deserve is pinpointing the at-fault party. However, this task isn’t always as straightforward as it sounds, especially in complex cases. This article will explain everything you need to know about determining fault in slip-and-fall accidents, including the legal concept of premises liability.
Are you drowning in medical debt after being injured by someone’s reckless actions? You may be able to hold the at-fault party accountable and receive a settlement through a personal injury lawsuit. Call us at (888) 452-2629 to explore your legal options in a free case evaluation.
Understanding Premises Liability
Slip-and-fall accidents fall under the legal concept of premises liability, which says that property owners (and some non-owner residents) owe a duty of care to visitors. That means they’re responsible for maintaining a safe environment for visitors, and when they fail to do so, they can be held liable for accidents and injuries that occur on their property.
If you were injured in a slip-and-fall accident, you may be able pursue compensation through a premises liability claim against the at-fault party. First, you will need to prove the following:
- You were on the property lawfully, or if not, the owner knew you were trespassing.
- The owner of the property was negligent in dealing with an unsafe condition. This typically means they knew about it (or should have known about it) and failed to fix it, rope it off or warn visitors about it.
- The property owner’s negligence caused your injury.
If you can show that these elements were at play in your accident, you may be able to pursue compensation from the at-fault party through a lawsuit. A crucial part of doing so will be proving the property owner owed you a duty of care.
Who Is Owed a Duty of Care?
The duty of care owed to visitors on a property depends on their legal status. In New York, visitors are divided into the following:
- Invitees. This category includes anyone who enters the premises with the property owner’s express invitation. Property owners owe invitees the highest duty of care.
- Licensees. Licensees are people who have the property owner’s permission to enter the premises but do so for their own purposes. Property owners must warn licensees of any dangerous conditions that they have knowledge of.
- Trespassers. Although property owners do not necessarily owe trespassers a duty of care, they can’t willfully cause them harm.
In order to prove liability in a slip-and-fall case, you’ll need to show that the at-fault party owed you a duty of care and that they breached that duty. But before you can do that, you’ll need to determine who was actually responsible for your accident.
Determining Fault in a Slip-and-Fall Accident
Determining fault in a slip-and-fall accident (or in any type of premises liability case) isn’t always easy. Contrary to what most people think, fault doesn’t always lie with the property owner. Liability could also fall on any of the following parties:
- Lessee or tenant. If your slip-and-fall accident occurred on a rented property, the owner may not be the responsible party. The hazardous condition precipitating your accident may have been caused by a lessee or tenant, against whom you can file a claim.
- Store manager. If a store manager failed to maintain a safe, hazard-free environment and you were injured as a result, you may be able to pursue a premises liability claim against them.
- Government entity. If you were injured in a slip-and-fall accident on public property, the at-fault party may be a government entity. However, it’s important to understand that you’ll have to comply with special rules if you decide to file a claim against the government.
- Residential property owner. If you suffered injuries as a result of an unexpected hazard on someone’s personal property or home, you may be able to sue them for damages.
Ultimately, the at-fault party is most likely going to be the person or entity that created the hazard, failed to repair it or failed to warn you about it. Still unsure who caused your slip-and-fall accident? Don’t worry—an experienced slip-and-fall attorney can review the details of your case and help determine the at-fault party.
Jacoby & Jacoby: Top Premises Liability and Slip-and-Fall Lawyers in New York
Slip-and-fall accidents are anything but simple. They can be deceptively complex and result in a wide range of serious injuries. Determining fault can also be a challenge, especially without expert legal help. That’s why it’s a good idea to partner with a trusted attorney who has experience with trying—and winning—premises liability cases.
If you suffered serious injuries in a slip-and-fall accident that wasn’t your fault, you may be able to pursue compensation. The team at Jacoby & Jacoby can help explore your legal options and choose the best strategy for your situation. Plus, getting started with us is easy. Simply schedule a free case evaluation online or give us a call at (888) 452-2629.