Dangerous conditions, ranging from icy sidewalks to spilled liquids, are a significant cause of serious slip and fall injuries every year. If you are hurt on private or publicly-accessible property, because of an unmarked hazard and want to file a personal injury lawsuit, there are few essential factors to take into consideration.
In situations where a dangerous property condition causes you to fall and suffer injury, liability may rest with the owner or manager if specific criteria are met. Given the complexity of premises liability claims, it’s in your best interest to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney about the merits of your case.
Whether the fall took place at a retail outlet, restaurant, or a movie theater, you–as a visitor– are expected to use reasonable care to avoid unnecessary injury. For example, a shopping center has a “wet floor” sign posted at the doorway. Upon entering, you fail to notice because you are busy texting a friend. You slip and twist your ankle badly. You have to use crutches for two weeks. In this scenario, you are likely to bear some responsibility for your accident, which can negatively impact the success of a personal injury claim.
Did the property owner know of the dangerous condition?
In Virginia, a property owner must have actual notice of the hazardous condition for a negligence claim to advance. Owners or managers cannot be held liable for wet floors, loose carpeting, or broken steps if they have no constructive knowledge of it. In sum, the law affords property owners some leeway in terms of time to discover and fix a potentially dangerous hazard.
Notice is one of the hardest elements to prove in personal injury cases arising from slips and falls. The injured claimant must be able to demonstrate approximately how long the property owner was aware or should have been aware of the condition, either through incident reports filed with management, security camera footage, or even eyewitness testimony.
To prevail in a slip and fall claim, your personal injury lawyer must be able to show when the dangerous condition came into existence and that the owner of the premises had adequate time to fix it.
Were guests or patrons adequately warned?
By law, property owners and operators must provide a reasonably safe environment for residents, guests, and patrons. That means conducting routine inspections, ensuring the premises are properly maintained, and if a safety hazard is discovered, making sure that it is repaired in a timely fashion.
It also means that guests should be notified if a dangerous condition exists and has yet to be repaired. Warning signs should be posted in visible areas to help prevent a slip and fall accident. A failure to post safety cones or other cautionary signs about a hidden danger can give rise to a personal injury lawsuit.
Bear in mind that rules of premises liability may differ on commercial versus residential properties. When in doubt, always consult an attorney who can explain your rights and legal remedies available.
Contact us at Rutter Mills for a free consultation
When property owners fail to take steps to prevent unreasonable risk of harm, and serious injury results, victims are eligible for compensation. To learn more about your rights, contact Rutter Mill’s personal injury lawyers for a free consultation.
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