Slip and fall cases can be very difficult to prove because fault is not always obvious. Thousands of individuals are injured each year from slipping or tripping on something in a store or on someone’s property, many of those injuries very serious. Substances on the floor of a store can be very dangerous. Uneven sidewalks or misplaced items can lead to serious injuries, as well. Nevertheless, it can be very difficult to prove all of the elements necessary to establish someone’s responsibility or liability for a slip and fall accident. Here our Joplin slip and fall attorney will discuss the challenge of proving these types of claims.
Determining whether the accident could have been avoided?
The first question you should ask yourself if you have been involved in a slip and fall accident is whether the accident could have been avoided. While in most cases, the answer may be yes, there are still some situations where nothing could have been done to avoid the injury.
For instance, when a property owner has no knowledge of a dangerous condition before your injuries were sustained, that owner may not be held liable for your fall. A common example is an overnight winter storm that creates icy conditions on the sidewalk in front of a store. If you slip on that sidewalk before the store has opened and anyone has had the opportunity to observe the condition and remove the ice and snow, then the store owner will likely not be held responsible.
The duty to maintain reasonably safe conditions
Each of us has a responsibility to, not only be aware of our surroundings but also to take steps to avoid dangerous conditions that are obvious or reasonably expected. That does not mean that a property owner does not owe, at least, some duty to take reasonable steps to ensure that his or her property is free from dangerous conditions that could result in a slip and fall injury. Determining whether the steps taken were, in fact, reasonable is where the ability to prove your case can become difficult. The “reasonableness” of a property owner’s actions will be balanced against the care that you were expected to use at the time of the accident. This is why slip and fall cases are not always as straightforward as they seem.
How to establish liability for a slip and fall injury
There are certain facts that you must be able to establish in order to prove a property owner is liable for your injuries in a slip and fall accident. If you can show that the property owner, or an employee of the property owner, either knew or should have known of the dangerous condition because any other “reasonable” person in his or her position would have known about it and fixed the problem. It must also be shown that the property owner did not, in fact, take steps to fix the dangerous condition. Another way to establish liability is to show that the property owner, or an employee, actually caused or created the dangerous condition.
Recovery in slip and fall cases depends on the type of damages
Every single case, not just in the premises liability area of the law, is different. The circumstances from which the claim arises are different. More importantly, the type and degree of injuries will be different. In some cases, there are other types of damages beyond mere compensation for injuries and medical treatment. All of these factors play a role in determining the value of a slip and fall case and our Joplin slip and fall attorney can help you sort them out.
The purpose of personal injury damages is to make the injured person whole. This simply means compensating the victim for whatever was lost as a result of the accident or injury. The only way to do so is through a monetary recovery. However, it can be very difficult to determine an exact dollar amount. Luckily, there are some forms of compensatory damages that are relatively easy to quantify.
In a typical slip and fall case, injured plaintiffs will seek compensation for the medical treatment they had to receive, as a result of their injuries. This is the main component of damages in a personal injury case. Compensation for medical treatment will likely include reimbursement for treatment already received, as well as compensation for the estimated costs of any medical care that may be needed in the future.
With the various types of damages and the imprecise nature of determining their value, it is nearly impossible to tell a client how much a slip and fall case is worth. However, an experienced Joplin slip and fall attorney can guide you through litigation of these cases, and assist you in receiving the compensation to which you are entitled.
If you have questions regarding slip and fall claims or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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