How to Know If You Have a Slip and Fall Case

Key Points:

  • After a slip and fall accident, answering a few questions about the circumstances can help you understand if you have a claim.
  • One of the most critical aspects of a slip and fall case is knowing whether the property or business owner was negligent.
  • Sometimes publicly-owned properties, such as City Hall or a city park, are covered by sovereign immunity making lawsuits challenging to prosecute.
  • If you were acting negligently or in a restricted area when the fall happened, you may not have a case.

If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, you may be wondering if you have a case that may help you collect reimbursement for medical or related bills. While many slip and fall accidents are perusable through legal means, certain aspects must be present for your claim to be legitimate.

Perhaps the most important factor in any slip and fall case is that the accident must have happened because the property owner or manager of the business was negligent. The business may also assume liability if the accident occurred because employees of the establishment were poorly trained or did not take the essential steps to eliminate or warn of a dangerous situation in a timely manner.    

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to better understand if you have a case.

Did the fall happen because of a preventable unsafe condition?

Many slip and fall accidents could have been prevented if the proper care was taken. Neglected spills, slippery surfaces, trip hazards, or uneven walking areas are all good examples of unsafe hazards that should have been corrected.

Poor lighting is another frequent cause of slip and fall accidents. When low lights or neglected lighting fixtures make it difficult to see and avoid hazards, owners or managers can be held responsible.

If your fall happened because of these unsafe conditions, your chances of having a successful case might be increased. A personal injury lawyer can help you understand whether negligence played a part in your accident and what your next steps should be.

Did the fall happen on a privately-owned and insured premises?

To have a valid insurance claim, the location where you fell must be owned or insured by a party who is responsible for maintaining the safety of the area. The liable party may be a property owner, business owner, or organization that is responsible for the upkeep and care of the location. If a fall happens somewhere that’s not owned or managed by someone, unfortunately, there’s no one to hold accountable.

Public property, like a local park or City Hall, is often protected by sovereign immunity laws that protect government entities, which may make it harder to sue. However, you should check with an attorney before assuming you have a lost cause just because you were injured in a public area.

If you fell on privately-owned property, such as a store or restaurant, then you may have a higher chance of having a successful legal claim.

Was the area unsafe long enough that the owner or employees could have been aware of the danger and taken steps to prevent an accident?

Unsafe conditions can arise out of nowhere due to one simple mistake – for example, a child spills a drink in your path just as you walk to your table. In a case like this, it may be difficult to bring a claim because the management did not have time to clean the mess up before you stepped into it. The legal system recognizes that owners must be given time to discover and then fix any problems that happen at their establishment.  

If the dangerous condition was not addressed for a more extended time, then that may increase the viability of your claim.

Were there clearly visible warning signs in the unsafe area?

Businesses should have a stringent training policy concerning slip and fall hazards. All employees should be trained to check the premises often for dangerous conditions. If a risk is discovered, employees should immediately place highly visible warning signs in the unsafe area. If such signs are not placed quickly, you may have a claim.

If you had an accident in an area where there were no warnings present, it improves your odds of having a winnable case.

Were you negligent for your fall in any way?

Sometimes slip and falls occur even in safe conditions because of our own mistakes. If you turned an ankle without there being a hazard present, then it’s unlikely that anyone else could be held liable.

It is also possible that you, as the victim, could be considered negligent for the accident. For instance, if you were running or rushing in an area, like a grocery store aisle or between tables at a restaurant, then the accident may be your fault alone.

Or if you were distracted due to a phone, television, or other people and you were not paying attention to your surroundings, then your claim won’t likely be viable.

Georgia is a comparative liability state, which means if you are found mostly to blame for your accident, then it is unlikely that you will be able to pursue a claim.

Were you permitted to be in the area where the accident occurred?

If you were injured after wandering into a restricted place, like a restaurant’s kitchen or wait-staff station that was marked “Employees Only,” then you may not be able to prove the owner’s liability. (One exception to this rule might be if you are an employee and you slipped in an employee area.)

On the other hand, if the accident happened where the public is permitted, it increases your odds of having a good case.

Was it challenging to view the unsafe area due to poor lighting?

A poorly-designed lighting system in a business space is often the cause of falls. Dim or non-functioning bulbs or other lighting features can make it difficult for patrons to see where they are walking or avoid otherwise obvious hazards.

While a restaurant or nightclub is free to have low lighting, they must ensure that the walking space and flooring are free from obstacles and danger. If your vision was restricted because of lighting, this could increase your chances of having a slip and fall case.

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Were you injured as a result of the slip and fall accident?

If you were lucky enough to avoid injury from a slip and fall or you did not seek medical attention because your injuries were minor, it can be difficult to receive compensation.

However, some serious cases can result in injuries that incur crippling medical bills and life-changing challenges. Severe slip and fall injuries can make daily tasks difficult and cost you time away from work.

If the fall created injuries, and those injuries are proven with medical documents and bills, then you can likely pursue a case.

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