According to the National Floor Safety Institute, approximately one million people per year go to hospital emergency rooms because of slip and fall accidents. In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control estimate that 15,000 people over the age of 65 died as the result of slip and fall accidents.
When someone falls in any situation, there can be serious consequences. If those consequences were the result of bad property management, then you could have a lawsuit. But before you file that slip and fall lawsuit, you should understand the basics of how the process works.
Comparative Negligence In A Lawsuit
When it comes to personal injury cases, the state of New York uses a process called comparative negligence. Instead of assigning blame completely to one party or the other, New York balances the blame to try and make sure that the people who were most responsible bear the most blame.
For example, a court may decide that a slip and fall accident was 50 percent due to the actions of the victim. If this is the case, then the victim would get 50 percent of the damages awarded as a result of the accident. With comparative negligence, there is no guarantee that a victim will get all of the money that is awarded in a suit. It should be noted that the remaining 50 percent is simply not awarded and does not go to the other party.
What Is A Slip And Fall Accident?
Simply put, a slip and fall accident occurs when the conditions created by others cause you to trip, slip, or fall in a particular area. If there is ice on a sidewalk and you fall, then that is considered a slip and fall accident. If you are walking down a hallway that normally sees heavy foot traffic and you trip over a bucket left in the middle of the hallway by the property management company’s janitor, then you just had a slip and fall accident.
Who Do You Sue?
In most cases, you are not directly dealing with the property owner in a slip and fall accident. When you are injured in these types of situations, you will normally deal with the property owner’s insurance company. The very first thing the insurance company will try to do is offer you a settlement that is normally well below the financial damages you have incurred. When you decide to not accept that settlement, then you will bring a lawsuit against the insurance company to get the compensation you deserve.
What Are Your Chances At Winning Your Lawsuit?
The first step in a slip and fall lawsuit is to establish negligence on the part of the property management representative. That means that you must prove that the property owner:
- Caused the dangerous situation and did not remedy it
- Knew about the dangerous situation but did nothing to fix it
- Should have known about the dangerous situation because any “reasonable person” would have known to check for problems in that particular area
It can be difficult to establish negligence, and it can be even more difficult to convince a judge or jury that you had nothing to do with your accident. In a state that bases liability cases on comparative negligence, the insurance companies do whatever they can to discredit the victim to lower the final financial award. If your own carelessness created the dangerous situation, then you may get no financial compensation at all. The outcome depends on the case you put together, and how well you can prove that case to a court.
In New York State, there are legal mechanisms set up that make filing slip and fall lawsuits difficult. But if you hire an experienced attorney, then you significantly increase your chances of getting the compensation you deserve.