The Basics of Slip and Fall in Alabama
One of the most common areas of inquiry I receive as personal injury attorney is regarding a slip and fall injury or trip and fall injury. Many people are under the mistaken concept that if they are injured on the premises of another, then the premise owner is strictly liable for all general damages (medical bills, lost wages, pain & suffering, emotional distress, etc.). This is not necessarily the case. In order to successfully recover the above listed damages, a slip & fall victim must prove liability on the part of the premise owner. That is you must prove the premise owner did something negligent or reckless that caused or contributed to the fall.
When a person is on another's property for a mutually beneficial purpose, that person is known as an invitee under Alabama law. When ever a liability claim is made by an injury victim, the injury victim has the burden of proof regarding that claim. Simply put when an invitee falls and is injured, the invitee must legally prove that the premise owner failed to exercise ordinary care to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition. Further complicating recovery rights for slip & fall victims is the antiquated Alabama law of contributory negligence. This law prohibits victims of negligence from recovering if their own negligence proximately caused the injury in any manner. Alabama is only one of five jurisdictions or States still using contributory negligence as a complete defense to a claim of negligence.
This information is provided as a courtesy and without remuneration. It should not be considered a substitute for legal advice from an experienced attorney. The reader is reminded that some premise owners have policies of insurance in effect which provide for payments of medical bills related to an on-premise injury regardless of negligence issues. This type of coverage is generally known as Medical Payments Coverage (Med-pay). Attached are relevant sections from the Alabama Pattern Jury Instructions.
RELATED LEGAL STANDARDS AND DEFINITIONS from the Alabama Pattern Jury Instructions (APJI)
Burden of Proof : APJI 8.00 The burden is on the plaintiff to reasonably satisfy you by the evidence of the truthfulness of the matters and things claimed by him or her before the plaintiff would be entitled to recover.
Invitee: APJI 31.00 An invitee is a person on the premises of another at the express or implied invitation of the owner or occupant and for a purpose in which the owner or occupant of the premises has a beneficial interest.
Duty Owed to an Invitee: APJI 31.01 The duty of the owner or occupant of premises to an invitee is to be reasonably sure that he is not inviting another into danger and to exercise ordinary care to render and keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition.
Contributory Negligence: APJI 30.00 Contributory negligence is negligence on the part of the plaintiff that proximately contributed to the alleged injury.
Effect of Contributory Negligence: APJI 30.02 If you are reasonably satisfied from the evidence that the plaintiff was guilty of contributory negligence, the plaintiff cannot recover for any initial simple negligence of the defendant.