Slip and fall accidents are a commonplace occurrence in the US. According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), over one million Americans suffer from a slip, trip, and fall injuries and more than 17,000 people die after sustaining these injuries. These injuries can be due to a wet floor, poor lighting, uneven flooring, or torn carpeting. In the absence of these factors, injuries can be avoided. This forms the foundation of a slip and fall lawsuit. If you have sustained to sustain any injury on someone else’s property you may have a case against the property owner. If proven to be at fault, the property owner will be liable for paying for all the damages you incur due to the injury. Navigating the slip and fall injury law landscape can be difficult for a layman. Hiring a slip and fall attorney is the best way to ensure your interests are protected.
Slip and fall injuries fall under the broader legal concept of premises liability. Under this concept, the owner, manager, or occupier of a property is responsible for providing a safe environment to anyone who visits or stays on the premises. If in case a hazard develops on the property, the responsible party is liable for providing warnings until it is fixed. In case the property owner fails to do so, and the hazard causes harm to a visitor or resident then it becomes a legal liability for them. This means that if you suffered from an injury due to a property manager’s negligence, you are liable for compensation.
Slip and fall accidents can occur on any property. Therefore, premises liability applies to both public and private property. This means everything from an office building to a personal residential apartment should offer a safe environment for visitors and occupants.
Determining whether or not your injury was due to the negligence of the property owner or manager is not difficult. However, proving it from a legal perspective can be difficult. Liabilities differ for different types of properties. Here is what you should keep in mind when evaluating your injury for different properties:
To consider filing a lawsuit for your injury against the owner, manager of a theatre, store, restaurant, or any other business, you should keep the following things in mind:
If you suffered from a slip and fall accident on a commercial property, it could be due to several entities other than the business and property owners.
In the case of residential property, landlords are liable for the upkeep of their property. If you suffered an injury while staying at a rental place, you can hold your landlord liable for your injury. To prove liability you must show that:
The chances of filing and winning a slip and fall injury claim against a government entity are slim. Special rules apply if you sustain a slip and fall injury on a property owned by local, state, and federal government entities. In such cases, you will likely have to meet stringent notice requirements and find ways to overcome immunity provisions that these entities get to protect them from being held liable against injuries.
If you believe you have a strong slip and fall claim, you should file a personal injury lawsuit. Although laws vary from state to state, here are the stages that the lawsuit will go through:
For initiating a lawsuit, you will be required to file a complaint explaining the nature of your claim. Because the laws vary from state to state, the level of details to be provided in the complaint varies. In some states, the victim or plaintiff is required to provide a factual summary of the accident. In others, plaintiffs are only a small amount of information that is enough to put the defendant on notice regarding the claim.
Your complaint should contain the following information:
The complaint needs to be filed with another document called the summons that will order the defendant to file a response to the complaint within a limited time.
Answer is a term used to define the response to the complaint from the defendant. Unlike a Complaint, the Answer is only required to contain the admission or denial of the allegations stated in the Complaint. Besides this, the Answer will mention affirmative defenses. These are legal claims which if proved will reduce the defendant’s liability in the lawsuit or enable them to get the claim dismissed. Typically, most states expect defendants to respond within 20 days of receiving the summon. However, the defendant may secure another 20 days to respond by agreeing to waive off the usage of certain defenses.
During this phase, the parties will try and build their cases. The phase involves both parties sending interrogatories to one another. Interrogatories are nothing but written questions that each party needs to answer under oath. In addition to this, the parties also issue requests of production to obtain things and documents related to the case. The phase also involves interviewing witnesses in the presence of a court reporter.
During this phase, the parties try to resolve the conflict by finding a middle ground. This happens through two procedures namely mediation and settlement conferences. The only difference between the two procedures is the party supervising the negotiations. In the case of mediation, the parties try to find a middle ground by hiring a private mediator. On the other hand, a settlement conference is ordered by the court and conducted in the presence of a judge.
There are certain motions that each party can file before a trial to resolve issues. Some common pre-trial motions are:
This motion is filed by the defendant early in the lawsuit to get it dismissed for failing on some technical legal grounds.
The motion can be filed by each party to request the court to direct the other party to do something they otherwise will not agree to do. This is used to gather evidence and documents that the parties may be unwilling to produce in court.
This is a powerful movement that can be filed by either party. The motion is filed to request the court to pass a judgment claiming that the other party does not have the facts or evidence to back their defenses or case. If granted, the motion would become the final judgment.
The motion requests the court to allow the party to keep certain evidence from being used in the trial because it may be too prejudicial. This means that the evidence could impact the judge or jury’s decision.
Hiring a slip and fall attorney will benefit you in the following ways:
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