How Do I Prove Who Is at Fault in a Slip and Fall Accident?
San Jose slip and fall injuries are unfortunately common and cause injuries that can significantly alter your life. The responsibility for the injury typically depends on several different factors. While these factors may help explain the law, every case has its own set of unique facts. A San Jose slip and fall accident attorney will be able to detail the available legal options that fit each unique situation.
Every Person Has The Duty to Act in a Reasonable Manner
At the risk of overstating the obvious: the world is a dangerous place. Taking note of this obvious fact, the law imposes a burden on every person to act in a “reasonable” manner. Therefore, if you tripped on a correctly installed sewage drain then the law would likely deem that to be your “fault.” On the other hand, if the sewage drain was incorrectly installed then it would most likely be the fault of the city worker incorrectly installed the sewage drain – or, more likely, their company.
Why would it be the city worker’s fault? Because he behaved unreasonably. It is reasonable to expect a city worker, who deals with drains all the time, to correctly and safely put a sewage drain back in its place. Further, it’s unreasonable to expect a pedestrian to be on the lookout for this kind of danger since it is an uncommon occurrence.
Understanding the “Reasonableness Standard”
The “reasonableness” standard is intentionally flexible and depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding the fall. For example, imagine a person slips on a large puddle of fast-moving water at an amusement park. If he were at a “Wild Safari Jungle” ride that had multiple warning signs about fast-moving water, he would likely be at fault for the injuries caused by his fall. In contrast, if he was the ninth person that summer to slip on on a fast-moving puddle that was in a dimly lit part of the park, it would likely be the amusement park’s fault. The “unreasonable” or “careless” actor in the story changes depending on the circumstances and the behavior we expect from each person in that situation.
Even with this shifting standard, the law is still not that simple. Here are a few “red flags” that typically indicate a landowner or business is responsible for a slip and fall injury:
- The landowner or business caused the slippery conditions.
- While not the cause, the landowner or business knew about the slippery conditions and ignored them.
- If the business or landowner neither caused the slippery conditions nor knew about them, they will still be legally responsible if they should have known about the slippery conditions. For example, if a child spills his drink at a restaurant and an hour later someone slips on it. The restaurant will not escape legal liability just because it did not have a single employee actually see the spill because any competent restaurant should have seen and cleaned up the mess within the hour.
Proving Negligence in a San Jose Slip and Fall Accident
Once you’ve shown that the property owner, tenant or manager had a duty to act in a reasonable fashion with regard to the property, you must provide evidence that their failure to act reasonably resulted in your injuries. Ultimately, what an insurance company and a judge will want to see in a slip and fall case, is proof that the person or entity responsible was guilty of negligence. To prove negligence, you must show that:
- the person that owns/controls/leases or otherwise occupies the property was negligent in the maintenance or use of the property;
- that negligence caused you to slip and fall; and
- that negligence was a substantial factor in causing your injuries.
If at all possible, after your accident, take pictures of the scene of the accident and the surroundings. If there were witnesses to your fall, ask for their contact information and a statement of what they saw. Seek medical attention immediately and maintain complete and accurate records of your treatment, expenses and losses due to the accident.
Posted in: Slip & Fall