How To Prove Fault In Slip And Fall Accidents

Daren Brown
By Daren Brown | March 19, 2019

icy-sidewalkThousands of people are injured in slip and fall accidents every year. A question that often comes up after such a fall is "Who is at fault?" The person who fell may try to blame the property owner. The property owner may blame the individual's clumsiness or distraction for the accident.

Who's Responsible?

Property owners have a responsibility to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition. However, the individual has the responsibility to be aware of the surroundings and make efforts to avoid dangerous conditions.

To prove a property owner is liable in a given situation, the person who fell must prove one of three things:

  • The property owner should have known of the dangerous condition.

  • The property owner did know about the condition and did nothing to address it.

  • The property owner caused the condition.

Trying to prove a property owner should have known about a condition is where the problem lies. To work through this, judges and juries use the concept of what a "reasonable" person should have known. If the court decides a reasonable person would have known the hazard and done something about it, the property owner can be held liable.

What Constitutes Reasonableness?

The concept of the reasonable person assumes a person of average intelligence, exercising ordinary prudence, in a given situation. The plaintiff must show that the property owner didn't act as a reasonable person would have in the same situation. Here are some questions that the court might consider in making that judgement:

  • How long has the hazard been present?

  • Was there a legitimate reason for the hazard being present? Is that legitimate reason still current?

  • Did the property owner erect a barrier or give warning of the hazard?

  • Does the property owner regularly inspect and maintain the property?

What Is The Plaintiff's Responsibility?

When considering fault, the judge or jury will consider if the person who fell contributed to the accident. Here are some questions asked about individual responsibility for the accident:

  • Did that person have a legitimate reason for being on the property?

  • Should the owner have expected someone to be on the property at a given time?

  • Would a reasonable person in the same circumstances been able to avoid or prevent the accident?

  • Did that person ignore a barrier or warning of a hazardous condition?

  • Was that person engaged in activities which contributed to the accident?

Finding fault in a slip and fall accident requires looking at both sides. If you are facing a slip and fall lawsuit, you need good legal representation. Call on the experts here at Stockard, Johnston, Brown & Netardus, P.C. in Amarillo, Texas.

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Topics: Personal Injury