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Proving fault in a slip-and-fall accident

On Behalf of | May 19, 2021 | Premises Liability

It is unlikely that residents in Maryland and elsewhere consider all the risks and potential dangers they may encounter when entering a store or other public properties. Nonetheless, risks and dangers may be present, resulting in an unsuspecting patron suffering a serious injury due to a slip-and-fall accident. Although it may seem apparent that the danger or risk that resulted in the incident was the property owner’s fault, this may not always be the case. Thus, it is important to understand how fault in proven in a slip-and-fall accident.

Proving fault

When a person slips on the floor, trips over ripped carpet or falls on the stairs, one is inclined to think that this incident was the result of the property owner failing to take responsibility to correct a dangerous situation. While it could very well be the fault of the property owner, this still must be proven because there is a chance that the property owner was unaware of the dangerous situation because it had just occurred.

With regards to liability, one should consider whether or not the property owner could have prevented the slip-and-fall accident.  In other words, if the property owner was more careful, the accident could have been avoided. Thus, it means that a property owner will only be responsible for dangerous condition they created, knew about or should have known about and would not be responsible for a dangerous condition a reasonable person would have avoided, such as a large object on the floor, a huge hole in the ground or a large conspicuous spill on the floor.

Liability for a slip-and-fall accident

A property owner is expected to maintain reasonably safe conditions on their property. This means that they must evidence efforts to ensure that the property is free from dangerous conditions. When proving liability for a slip-and-fall accident, one needs to prove one of three situations. The first is that the property owner or their employee should have known about the dangerous condition and fixed it because a reasonable person would have known about it and had enough time to correct it. Second, the property owner or their employee had knowledge of the dangerous condition and failed to repair or fix it. Finally, the property owner or employee caused the dangerous condition.

Once fault is established in a slip-and-fall accident, liability can be placed on the party at fault. A personal injury action not only helps establish fault, but it also assists the injured party calculate the damages suffered from the accident. This amount could include physical, emotional, mental and property damage and could help a victim become whole again after suffering these losses.