In personal injury cases, “negligence” is a fundamental concept. In short, the simple fact that you have been injured (in most cases) does not mean that you are entitled to compensation. In order to secure a financial recovery, you need to be able to prove that someone else made a mistake (or was “negligent”) in causing or contributing to your accident.
Under law, there are four elements to proving a claim for negligence: duty, breach, causation, and harm. Here is a brief introduction to how these elements apply in the case of a slip-and-fall accident:
Negligence Factor #1: Duty
The first step toward proving negligence in a slip-and-fall accident case is to prove that the property owner owed you a legal duty. In most cases, this is actually easier than it sounds. If you were on the property for purposes (i.e. you were shopping at the mall or seeking medical attention at the hospital), or if you were there as a social guest (i.e. you were attending a party), the property owner owed you a duty to maintain the premises in reasonably safe condition. Even if you were trespassing, the property owner still owed a duty to protect you against concealed risks.
Negligence Factor #2: Breach
Next, you must be able to prove that the property owner breached their duty. In slip-and-fall accident cases, this usually means a lack of maintenance. But, it could also mean failing to implement necessary safety precautions, or it could mean failing to remedy a dangerous condition inherent in the property’s design or construction. Some common examples of property owner breaches include:
- Failing to clean up spills
- Failing to cordon off recently-cleaned floors
- Failing to fix a broken step
- Failing to install a handrail
- Failing to warn of potential slip-and-fall hazards
Negligence Factor #3: Causation
Once you have established a breach, then you need to establish that the breach caused you to fall. There are lots of slippery floors and broken steps all over Palm Beach County; but, if they haven’t affected you, they do not entitle you to file a claim.
Causation is often one of the most heavily disputed aspects of slip-and-fall accident claims. Property owners will dispute that the conditions on their premises were dangerous enough to cause a fall, they will claim that victims’ injuries were pre-existing (or otherwise unrelated to the accident), and in many cases they will even try to blame the victim for falling. This is why it is important to see a doctor right away and follow our other tips for protecting your right to financial compensation.
Negligence Factor #4: Harm
Finally, in order to recover compensation, you must have losses that can be compensated. If you slipped and fell but were not injured (never assume this, even if you feel fine), you likely do not have any losses to recover. In many cases, the losses from a slip-and-fall accident will be substantial – far more than most people realize – and it will take an experienced attorney to determine the amount of compensation that is available.
Call 24/7 for a Free Consultation
If you slipped and fell in Palm Beach County and would like to speak with an attorney, I invite you to call me, Brian D. Guralnick, personally for a free consultation. To find out how much you are entitled to recover for your losses, call 561.202.MORE(6673) now.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog is not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. If you need advice on specific legal issues, please consult with a licensed Personal Injury attorney.