Proving Liability in Recent Slip and Fall Injury Case Challenging Yet
Proving a property owner to be liable for a slip and fall injury is a tough thing to do, but a recent settlement in a personal injury case in Virginia shows that it is possible.
In Prince William County, a plaintiff was awarded a $100,000 settlement after falling on a piece of ice at the exit of a car wash and sustaining a left ankle injury which resulted in $21,000 worth of medical bills. The plaintiff successfully showed that some of the ice was runoff from the car wash in addition to precipitation which had stopped the day before.
The plaintiff also proved that the defendant had notice of this dangerous situation and plenty of time to clear the ice and prevent such an injury from happening. The plaintiff further established that there was no contributory negligence-that is, that the accident wasn't in any way the victim's fault.
As this case shows, slip and fall injury cases require a lot of work in proving liability on the part of a business owner. Slip and fall injury cases are governed by premises liability, which varies from state to state. Essentially, each slip and fall injury case is judged on an individual basis and takes into account various factors, including whether the property owner was aware of the situation and made any efforts to make it safe, and whether the victim was careless.
In order for a premises liability case to succeed, a victim must show several things. First, a victim must demonstrate that property owner caused the dangerous situation and slip and fall injury. In the above case, the plaintiff was able to show the slip and fall occurred because of frozen ice that came from not only precipitation but also the runoff water from the defendant's car wash.
A personal injury victim must also show that the property owner knew of the situation (or should have known about the situation) and did nothing about it to avoid such an injury, and that a "reasonable person" would have done something about it. In other words, the owner of the car wash should have known that water was running off from the car wash and that ice had developed at its exit, which could possibly lead to someone sustaining a slip and fall injury.
In addition to applying the "reasonable person" standard to a defendant, a premises liability case also holds the plaintiff to the same standards. In other words, would a "reasonable person" be at the scene where the incident occurred? In this case, the plaintiff was not trespassing on property, doing anything illegal or ignoring a posted sign detailing such danger. The plaintiff was getting a car wash and had the right to be on the property.
The specific elements a personal injury victim must prove in order to prevail on a slip and fall or other personal injury claim vary somewhat from state to state. A local personal injury attorney can explain the laws in your state and help you protect your personal injury rights.