What Duties Do Businesses Have To Keep Me Safe?
I was injured when I slipped and fell in a local business establishment. What can I do?
If you have been injured by falling while on another’s property, you may have a slip-and-fall claim. A slip-and-fall claim is a personal injury action based on tort law. Based on the facts of your case, the property owner may be liable for the injuries you have sustained. It does not matter if the property is public or private, the owners may still be held accountable for injuries on their property. Thus the owner may be a private citizen, a corporation or business, or even a government entity.
If you are entering slip-and-fall litigation, you will have to prove four elements of personal injury to the court. The elements necessary to prove personal injury are as follows:
The injured party (or someone on their behalf) must show that the property owner had a legal duty to do everything possible (based on a reasonable person standard) to prevent the injury from occurring on his or her property. For example, business owners have a duty to prevent foreseeable harm that may injure their patrons.
Breach Of Duty
If the defendant’s duty has been proven, the injured party must also show that the defendant breached his or her legal duty: The defendant, by action or inaction, did not prevent the foreseeable harm that injured the plaintiff while on the defendant’s property.
To prove causation, the claimant (plaintiff) must prove to the court that the defendant’s (property owner’s) breach of duty is what caused his or her injury. For example, the defendant knew of a dangerous condition on his or her property, failed to rectify it and this condition injured the victim.
The plaintiff must show that there was an actual injury. This may be proven by testimony from the doctor who treated him or her, medical records and the victim’s own testimony.
What May The Defendant Do?
If you have proven the four elements of personal injury to the court, the defendant (property owner) will have a chance to present his or her defenses to the court. The defendant will try to show the court that he or she was not negligent and keeping the property safe of foreseeable harm. They will try to prove to the court that they exercised due diligence in discovering any dangerous conditions on their property; property owners are required to exercise due diligence by law. To prove there was no negligence on the defendant’s part, they must provide evidence that they applied the same level of care as any other reasonable property owner would in a similar situation/similar conditions.
Conversely, the defendant’s defense may be that the victim’s injury was self-inflicted or caused by the victim’s own carelessness/negligence. The property owner had a duty to keep the property safe from hazardous conditions. However, there are situations that may be outside of the defendant’s control. If the injured person did not look out for his or her own safety, or deliberately engaged in a dangerous action, or created a risky condition, while on the defendant’s property, the defendant may not be held liable.