If you recently had a slip or fall accident within another person’s property that resulted in an injury requiring medical attention such as broken bones, head injuries, muscle strains, sprains, or dislocations, you may be wondering if you are eligible to file a personal injury claim and have the negligent party held liable.
Every year, thousands of accident victims file personal injury claims after slipping on wet floors, loose carpeting, or uneven surfaces; tripping on objects; or falling on broken stairs and defective structures. But before suing property owners, fall victims must prove that their accident warrants a claim for monetary compensation. This means that the accused was indeed at fault for the slip or fall due to irresponsibility or negligence.
In some injury cases, the property owner is held liable, but in other instances, the court finds no fault in the defendant. This is because owners’ placement of objects may be purposeful, and they cannot always clean up slippery substances on floors right away. In other legal cases, serious injuries resulted from tripping on an object that any person is expected to avoid.
There is no single rule to determine who is to blame if you slipped or fell, but below are three guidelines to help ascertain who was legally at fault:
- Examine if your accident warrants a personal injury claim.
The property owners may be held legally responsible for the pain and suffering caused by your accident if you and your personal injury attorney can provide evidence that:
- the slippery substance, or the object which caused the fall, was spilled or left by the property owner or his employee,
- the owner or his employee had been aware of the dangerous material’s presence but failed to put it away, or
- any reasonable person should have known the hazards of the material in the property and would have taken necessary precautions.
Whether or not the defendant demonstrated recklessness or negligence will ultimately be determined in the final verdict of the judge and jury.
- Determine the property owner’s level of responsibility in your negligence claim.
Under the law, a defendant’s liability is evidenced by his effort, or lack of, to maintain cleanliness and safety in his property. Below is a list of scenarios you may claim to point out the other party’s negligence:
- There was no legitimate reason for the object to be left on the ground, or there used to be a reason that no longer exists, and the material was not kept.
- The dangerous area or hazardous object had been there long enough for the owner to be aware of it.
- The material was wrongfully placed and could have been kept in another location.
- There was no regular maintenance procedure in the property.
- There was no warning placed on the property.
If one or more of these things apply to your accident, you may have a strong claim for personal injury and may receive fair or even maximum compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages, or other damages.
- Determine your own level of responsibility in the accident.
It is possible for the defendant to counterclaim that the accident was due to your carelessness. Evaluate whether any of the following apply to you as your insurance company would likely check for these scenarios:
- You did not have a legitimate reason to be in the property, or your reason for being there was not anticipated by the owner.
- A careful person would have avoided the dangerous spot or object.
- You disregarded the slip and fall warning signs.
- You were distracted or doing something else which made the serious injury more likely to occur.
If you are determined to file a lawsuit in Arizona’s civil courts, you may consider consulting with a law firm that is experienced in handling slip and fall accident cases. Personal injury attorneys will help ensure that you follow the statute of limitations for this case. The Arizona Revised Statutes section 12-542 sets a two-year deadline for you to file a civil case over personal injuries. If you sued someone over an accident occurring more than two years ago, the defendant will simply file a “motion to dismiss” which will end your claim unless you qualify for exemptions, which your accident lawyer can help to prove.
If you seek legal action after an accident, or unsure if your injury warrants a claim, you may get a free consultation from Zolman Law, the #1 rated law firm in Maricopa County. Our personal injury attorneys will help establish your case under Arizona’s personal injury law. Call us now at (480) 418-2917.