The Elements of a Slip and Fall Case
To collect compensation from a slip and fall accident, you must be able to prove another party's negligence was the direct cause of the accident, and that you suffered injuries due to that party’s negligence. The following are the elements you must establish to have a valid slip and fall case.
Duty of CareA property owner owes visitors a duty of care to keep them safe from hazards on said property. This rule applies to both public and private properties, as well as government-owned property.
For most slip and fall cases, this element is easy to prove. If you slip and fall at a friend's house during a party, that friend owed you a duty of care to keep his or her property safe.
There is a caveat to the duty of care condition. If you are trespassing on another's property, the duty of care typically does not apply to you. Property owners do not owe anyone who is unlawfully on their property a duty of care to keep them from harm. If you trespass, you do so at your risk.
Breach of DutyA breach of duty occurs when a property owner acts negligently in keeping his property safe for guests. In the example above, if your friend hosts a party but fails to tell guests about his broken staircase, and you slip and fall on the stairs, your friend has breached his duty to warn guests of the hazard.
Breach of duty can occur if a property owner:
- Fails to acknowledge hazards and alert visitors to their presence
- Fails to repair the hazard
- Fails to barricade the hazard to prevent guests from accidentally encountering it
Timely Knowledge of HazardA slip and fall claim is typically invalid if the hazard only existed moments before the accident. If the property owner had no foreseeable knowledge or ability to know that the hazard would occur and cause injury, typically, victims will be unable to hold him accountable for damages.
Say you are in a grocery store and slip and fall on a spilled jar of mayonnaise. After reviewing security footage, you see the spill had happened only seconds before you slipped. In this situation, you might have trouble recovering damages because there was no time for the store to clean up the spill. However, if the spill had been there for several minutes, you could claim the store was negligent in cleaning up the hazard.
CausationCausation is the idea that the property owner's breach of duty directly caused your injuries and damages. For causation to apply, you must prove that but for the property owner's negligence, you would have been unharmed.
In the house party example, if you tripped down the stairs because you were drunk, and not because of a broken staircase, the neglect of the staircase repair had nothing to do with your fall.
DamagesDamages are the financial, physical, and emotional losses or injuries you sustained as a result of the property owner's negligence. These can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Medical costs
- Long-term disability
- Lost earning capacity
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral expenses
Damages requested in a slip and fall case must be the direct result of the accident.