Imagine the scenario in which you are at a friend’s house as an invited guest and enjoying some festivities. You go into the kitchen to get a drink, slip unexpectedly, fall, and get hurt. Who is to blame? Can you confidently say where liability lies in this scenario?
Slip and fall accidents are one of the trickiest case types for premises liability claims, which is a branch of the already complex legal practice area of personal injury. In most cases, a person who slips and fall on someone else’s property is alone, or seems to have fallen due to their own mistakes. Where does the liability end up: on the slipper who maybe was not paying enough attention, or the property owner? Can you sue someone for your fall on their property?
Delicate Details for Slip & Fall Claims
Every person has the duty to themselves to try to avoid danger and harm when they reasonably can do so. But every property owner has a duty to protect visitors, patrons, and pretty much anyone on their property from unreasonable danger. These seemingly conflicting duties are at the root of premises liability complications and why the details in such cases are crucial.
Going back to the original example of you falling in your friend’s kitchen during a party. It must be questioned whether or not your friend did an ample service of removing potential slip hazards from the area. It also would be questioned if you did enough to minimize your own risk of slipping and falling.
Behaviors that could decrease the property owner’s liability in this scenario include:
You allowed yourself to become heavily intoxicated before you fell.
You spilled liquid on the ground, on which you immediately slipped.
You knowingly ignored warning signs and barriers that were meant to stop you from entering the kitchen.
Behaviors that could increase the homeowner’s liability, on the other hand, may include:
Allowing a puddle to form in the kitchen from a leaky sink.
Not warning guests of potential slip hazards in the kitchen.
Providing no supervision for intoxicated guests.
Leaving a spilled drink on the ground for an unreasonable amount of time.
Shared Liability in Slip & Fall Cases
If the plaintiff in a slip and fall case was alone when the accident happened, it can be difficult to prove without a doubt that they did not act negligently or recklessly in some way. For this reason, many slip and fall cases conclude with liability split between the defendant and the plaintiff. In the kitchen slip example, if you were intoxicated at the time of the fall, the outcome could be 80% liability on the homeowner and 20% on you. If the total damages were $10,000, you would be held accountable for $2,000.
It is the job of a personal injury attorney to try to minimize their client’s liability in an accident, effectively maximizing how much compensation they can be granted from the defendant. At Bahe Cook Cantley & Nefzger PLC, we take our responsibility to our clients seriously and do everything we can to win them a beneficial verdict or settlement. To learn how we can help you in a slip and fall claim, contact our Louisville premises liability attorneys to schedule a free consultation – and be sure to ask about our contingency fees.