How Does Comparative Negligence Affect a Slip and Fall Case?
Slip and fall accidents can happen at any time, no matter the weather conditions or the location. When they occur, victims commonly sustain head injuries, broken bones, back injuries, and similar medical issues that may require expensive treatment. Fortunately, they can file a personal injury lawsuit in order to gain compensation for their damages.
However, just because somebody slipped and fell on another person’s property doesn’t mean the other party was entirely at fault. In fact, most states, including Missouri, enforce the concept of comparative negligence in cases where liability isn’t straightforward. This article will take a closer look at comparative negligence and explain how it impacts slip and fall cases.
The Basics of Slip and Fall Cases
Slip and fall accidents occur when a person injures themselves by falling on another’s property due to unsafe conditions. These can include:
● Overly slick, wet, or slippery surfaces
● Unstable surfaces, such as wobbly platforms
● Uneven surfaces like broken floorboards, cracks in the cement or pavement, and uneven flooring
● Fallen items that can cause a person to trip
Generally speaking, the owner is not automatically responsible just because there was an unsafe condition on their property. For the property owner to be liable, they must have been negligent regarding the hazardous condition. Simply put, the owner is liable only if they knew about the danger and failed to fix it before the victim got injured.
For example, a property owner knew that their staircase was in poor condition and could potentially cause harm to others. If they didn’t take action to repair it, they can be held liable for slip and fall injuries caused by the staircase.
Understanding Comparative Negligence
Comparative negligence is a partial legal defense that applies to injury cases in some states. According to it, when an accident occurs, each party’s negligence is based on their individual contributions to the slip and fall. This principle allows insurers to share the blame between their client and victim, and pay the claim accordingly.
For instance, think about people who run in areas marked as ‘no running’ by the owner. If running had contributed to their slip and fall, it might reduce their ability to get the full damages when filing a claim.
How Does It Work?
First, the court will need to determine if the property owner was negligent. Afterward, they will need to investigate and decide if the victim was also negligent. If the court finds out that the victim’s negligence led to the accident, they will have to determine the percentage of liability.
Once they establish a percentage, the court will deduct it from the monetary compensation. For example, the victim sustained $80,000 worth of damages due to a slip and fall accident. If the court determines that their negligence participation was 25%, then the plaintiff would only receive $20,000.
Types of Comparative Negligence
Comparative negligence laws vary from state to state. However, there are three main variations on the law that people should note. And since the rules can change at any time, being up-to-date is advisable.
● Contributory Negligence: Under this rule, if the victim is even partly to blame for the slip and fall, they won’t be able to receive any compensation. But this rule is getting removed from most states, with only 5 adhering to it at present.
● Pure Comparative Negligence: States, including Missouri, following this law allow victims to request compensation regardless of the percentage of their negligence. However, it should be noted that the other party needs to be at least 1% liable. Additionally, the damages a victim can recover will be reduced based on their own negligence.
● Modified Comparative Negligence: A few states utilize a different take on the comparative negligence rule that prevents victims from recovering compensation if they were more than 50% at fault. Just like with comparative negligence, the court will reduce the damages in accordance with the victim’s negligence share.
Ultimately, comparative negligence can deeply impact a slip and fall case. Not only can it reduce the amount of money the victim can receive, but it can also make the investigation process much more complex.
That’s why it’s important to request the help of a slip and fall attorney in St Louis. They will be able to answer all questions related to slip and fall cases while also doing the necessary investigation to determine liability. As a result, victims will be able to focus on recovery while their legal representative fights for fair compensation.
If the slip and fall accident took place on a flight of stairs, you will have to prove fault for stair accidents.