In the Unites States each year, the compensation and medical bills associated with slip and fall incidents reaches around $70 billion. Slip and fall injuries can have serious implications that can result in lost work, hefty medical bills and even death. One question you must ask yourself when filing a slip and fall claim is if you had any responsibility in the incident.
In order to prove that you were injured due to a property owner’s negligence, you must prove that they did not act reasonable compared to another person under similar circumstances. Essentially, you need to prove that any other reasonable person would have identified the dangerous situation that caused you harm and resolved the issue immediately before someone was hurt.
Two of the most important things to consider when filing a slip and fall case in Pennsylvania is the statute of limitations and ‘shared fault’. The statute of limitations deadline to file your slip and fall claim is two years from the date of the incident. Additionally, if a slip and fall case resulted in no personal injury but did damage personal goods, that claim would also need to be filed within two years.
Who Can Be Held Liable?
Pennsylvania law uses the ‘modified comparative negligence’ rule when determining how much compensation you can recover from the property owner if you had any fault in the case. This means that if the court awards you $50,000 for your slip and fall claim but determines that you were 10% responsible for your injury, $5,000 would be deducted from your compensation and you would be left receiving $45,000. If you are found responsible for more than 50% of your injury, you are unable to recover any money from another party.
You must prove one of the following situations to prove that your slip and fall was due to the property owner’s negligence:
- The property owner or employee cause the dangerous surface
- The property owner or employee knew about the dangerous surface and ignored it
- The property owner or employee should have known about the dangerous surface because any ‘reasonable’ person responsible for the property would have fixed or removed it
The most challenging part about proving a slip and fall case is proving how a ‘reasonable’ person would have handled the situation. Most often, the judge and jury will base their verdict off of common sense on whether or not the owner made an effort to keep their property safe.
Questions to Ask Yourself
When pursuing a slip and fall claim, it’s inevitable that the alternate party’s legal team will question you and your responsibility in the matter. Here are some things to ask yourself before you move forward with the slip and fall lawsuit:
- Did you have reason to be in the area where the dangerous surface was?
- Would a careful person notice and avoid the dangerous situation?
- Were there warning signs present indicating an area was unsafe?
- Were you doing anything that would have prevented you from paying attention? (i.e. Fooling around, using your cellphone or running?)
The party you are trying to hold responsible for your slip and fall injury will likely ask you these questions to determine your fault in the situation. Accidents do happen, but if you were injured in a space where the property owner was negligent and you were cognizant of danger, then you have the right to hold that party responsible.
Slip and fall injuries can result in serious damage both physically and financially. Each year in the United States, total injuries cost between $13-$14 due to slip and fall incidents. Unfortunately, a staggering 22% of slip and fall incidents resulted in more than 31 days of lost work. Not all slip and fall accidents are due to someone else’s negligence. However, if you are on someone else’s property and an injury occurred because they failed to solve or acknowledge an unreasonably dangerous condition on their property, you are entitled to pursue a slip and fall case.