The question of whether an injured person has a meritorious slip, trip and fall accident essentially depends on whether a business or property owner has maintained the premises or property in a safe manner. The challenge with these types of lawsuits, whether in Carolina or Virginia is proving what constitutes negligence on the part of the property owner. Many times it boils down to whether normal safety steps were taken to prevent such injuries.
There are many conditions that can cause a slip, trip, fall accident. This could include broken stairs, cracked pavement, icy and snow packed areas that should have been addressed or salted, wet surfaces, sharp or dangerous areas, and sometimes these conditions are combined with other contributing factors, such as poor lighting.
The main point to a slip, trip and fall lawsuit’s success is whether the owner knew or "should have known" about these problems and still did nothing about them. Basically, if the business owner failed to fix these potential dangers, then they could be found negligent and at fault for any injuries that result on their property-even if they did not forsee the precise way someone is hurt. It should be noted that not all instances of slipping, tripping or falling are viable claims or cases.
Sometimes, we are contacted by injury victims who describe their fall in great detail and explain that an incident report was promptly filed-and that they have a serious injury. When we ask the victim what caused their trip, slip or fall, they say "I am not sure." Now, sometimes we investigate a case and are able to determine the cause, but suffice to say its a stronger potential claim when the potential client knows exactly what condition caused the fall.
Successful slip, trip and fall accident claims in many states have specific rules about the property owner’s duty–which depends on what brought you onto a premises or landowner’s property. In other words, were you a business guest (invitee), were you there for some purpose if not direct business (licensee) or were you trespassing? As an invitee the landowner’s responsibility is higher in many states and the demands to keep the property safe and inspected are more significant.
There can also be what’s called a licensee, involved in a potential slip, trip and fall accident. A licensee is a person who enters the property with the owner’s permission for his or her own benefit and not at the direct benefit of the property owner. In such situations, the property owner must give fair warning of known hazards, or dangers. As for licensees on the premises, the landowner may not have a duty to inspect or fix conditions, but often has the responsibility to let you know they are present.
If you are shown to be a trespasser on the property, the owner has very slight liability for unsafe conditions-normally. The law may protect trespassers such as children attracted to a condition that is not protected from what young kids see as an attraction (the law calls this an "attractive nuisance" sometimes). Trespasser’s rights are the lowest of persons injured on a landowner or business owner’s property. If you have been seriously injured in a slip trip or fall accident, then the best course of action to take is to seek out a competent injury attorney to resolve your concerns.