Personal injuries from slip and falls accidents can result from a number of different types of situations. The most common reasons for falls are defective stairways and ramps, potholes in parking lots, sidewalk deviations, liquid or other foreign substances on floors, and accumulations of snow and ice. Whether the cause of the fall was the result on the defendant’s negligence depends on numerous factors. Under most states' laws of negligence, the property owner must have had actual knowledge, or constructive knowledge, that the dangerous condition existed prior to the fall. Constructive knowledge means that the property owner should have known that the dangerous condition existed. Therefore, if a property owner had actual or constructive knowledge that a dangerous condition existed and did nothing or not enough to correct it, that property owner may be considered negligent and therefore liable to the plaintiff for injuries and other consequential damages that related to the property owners negligence.
Proving slip and fall accidents are very difficult cases to prove for the person injured, mainly because the plaintiff , the person injured, carries the burden to prove that the property owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition (notice of the danger) and still did little to nothing to prevent it from occurring. This requires proving what and when the property owner knew or should have known and what the property owner did or didn’t do to prevent or remedy the dangerous condition.
In this regard the plaintiff ‘s attorney will need to carefully examine the circumstantial evidence regarding preventive maintenance activities in determining if the property owner was negligent in keeping the property free from unreasonably dangerous conditions.
Finally, slip and fall cases are often difficult to prove because of the looming issue of comparative fault on behalf of the injured party. Specifically, the defense will attempt to prove the person injured bears a share of the responsibility and liability for the accident because the plaintiff was not careful enough to avoid the injury in the first place. For example, the defense will try to prove the plaintiff was distracted or otherwise inattentive immediately before the accident occurred and was therefore a substantial factor in contributing to the accident and the injuries sustained. In many states, the plaintiffs own negligence will be used as a set-off to what the plaintiff would have otherwise received as compensation for the accident.
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