What Constitutes a Dangerous Condition Regarding Slip and Fall Cases
Tripping and falling is a fairly common occurrence, especially during wintertime. But while many people will remain unscathed after the incident, this isn’t always the case. Depending on the victim’s age, and the circumstances of their fall, the accident can leave them with serious injuries.
In a court of law, this type of accident is known as a slip and fall. And in case it happened on someone else’s property, the victim may be entitled to seek damages. This is especially true if they can prove the fall occurred because of the property owner’s negligence.
However, before the victim can file a lawsuit or insurance damages (Find out what damages are available to injured parties in a slip and fall), they first need to build a solid case. Different states have different laws about what constitutes a dangerous condition regarding slip and fall cases. So, to get the justice they deserve, victims need to be aware of all the legalities that could affect the legitimacy of their claim.
What Constitutes a Dangerous Condition Regarding Slip and Fall Cases?
Legal disputes are never easy. However, some cases are indeed much harder to win than others. Unfortunately, slip and fall accidents belong in this category for one simple reason. Victims can have a hard time proving their case in a court of law.
Just a set of injuries and a hospital record aren’t enough grounds for a victim to file a suit. To build a solid case, they first need to prove several things. First, they need to demonstrate that their fall occurred on the property because of unsafe conditions. These conditions have to pose a serious risk to the victim’s safety. However, they also have to be a danger the victim didn’t expect on the property.
In most slip and fall cases, dangerous conditions include:
● Wet and slippery floors
● A damaged sidewalk
● Uncovered potholes
● Improperly cleared ice and snow
● Faulty construction, like poorly made stairs, or a crumbling facade
But the victim doesn’t just have to demonstrate the property was unsafe. They also have to prove the property owner either caused these conditions or allowed them to persist in some way.
Suppose a property owner neglected to clear snow and salt the pavement on their property after a snowfall. In that case, the victim may be entitled to sue if they trip and seriously injure themselves.
What Affects the Validity of Slip and Fall Cases
Even if the victim can prove the owner created the dangerous conditions on their property, their case will not end there. The victim will need to take into account several other factors that can affect the validity of their claim.
1. Reasonable Safety
While the law requires owners to make their property adequately safe, they can’t always make it perfectly maintained. For instance, if the property owner took all the necessary safety measures after a snowstorm, and the victim still slipped and fell, then the victim won’t have grounds to seek damages.
2. If the Owner Was Aware of the Dangers or Not
If the owner wasn’t aware of the dangerous conditions on their property, or if they didn’t get a proper notice about them, then the victim can’t hold them legally liable. For example, if someone dropped a banana peel on a property, and the victim immediately slipped on it, they can't file a lawsuit. The property owner didn’t know about the peel, so they didn’t have enough time to clear it.
3. Comparative Negligence
Possibly the biggest factor that affects slip and fall cases is comparative negligence. The victim will bear some of the responsibility for their fall if the owner puts up a notice about dangers on their property.
Even when there isn’t a danger sign, people are expected to take extra precautions on their own in certain situations. For example, if they know a hill is steep and covered in ice and still choose to run up it, the court can hold them legally responsible for their injuries.
4. Statute of Limitation
One of the least discussed factors in slip and fall cases is the statute of limitations. All US states put a time limit on how long a victim can wait before filing a lawsuit against the property owner. In Missouri, the time limit is five years.
If the victim fails to seek damages during this period, the courts will dismiss their case. However, if they do file a lawsuit before the five-year mark is up, then the courts will acknowledge it even if the accident occurred some time ago.
In slip and fall lawsuits, Missouri courts prioritize the circumstances of the victim’s fall and what role the property owner played in the accident. While suing the property owner years after the accident may raise suspicion, it shouldn’t affect the court’s final decision if the victim has a solid case.
If you need help winning a slip and fall case, seek the assistance of a reliable St Louis slip and fall attorney. If the accident happened to somebody else but took place on your property, read more about property owner intentional torts.