Can Slip and Fall Victims Share Fault for Their Injury?
Property owners and their insurance companies are always looking for a way to avoid liability for a slip and fall accident. They may often try to pin the blame on the victim, saying he or she should have been more careful or that he or she knew the risks of the hazard or obstacle the caused the accident.
While property owners and insurance companies often have little or no evidence to back up these arguments, it is possible for a slip and fall victim to share fault. It is important to remember also that the burden of proof in any slip and fall claim is on the victim. If the other party claims you are partially or entirely at fault, you and your attorney need to disprove it.
Below, we discuss how slip and fall victims could be found partially at fault for a slip and fall accident. If you were injured in this type of situation, you should strongly consider seeking help from an experienced Phoenix slip and fall attorney. Proving a slip and fall case is a complex task. Having a legal professional with extensive legal knowledge can help you build a strong case.
Liability for a Slip and Fall Injury
Proving a property owner is liable for a slip and fall accident is difficult. There are many factors that must be considered, particularly the victim’s legal status while on the property.
While property owners owe a duty of care to visitors, the requirements of that duty of care vary based on the victim’s legal status. For example, a property owner has a greater duty of care to an invitee than to a licensee.
Property owners are legally required to use reasonable care to make their property safe for invitees. If a property owner knew or should have known about a dangerous condition, he or she would have been required to correct it or warn invitees about it.
Meanwhile, licensees typically only need to warn guests about dangerous conditions if they are unlikely to discover them on their own.
The terms “reasonable care” and “warning” are not clearly defined, which gives some leeway for victims and property owners to potentially share fault for a slip and fall.
How Victims May Share Fault for a Slip and Fall
These are a few of the many reasons a victim could be assigned some fault for a slip and fall injury.
You Were Impaired
If you were drunk or under the influence of drugs at the time of the accident, you might be assessed with a large amount of fault for your injury.
Property Owner Issued a Warning
You may have no case if the property owner has proof that he or she verbally told you about a hazard or a visibly-posted sign and you ignored the warning. However, if you saw the warning sign, but the meaning was unclear, you may only be partially to blame.
If a sign was posted, but the victim’s view of the warning was obstructed, the property owner may argue that you should have seen part of the sign and been more careful. However, in that instance, you might only be assigned partial fault for the accident.
Distracted or Inattentive
The property owner may claim you were distracted or not paying attention, which could make you partially liable. This argument may be valid, particularly if you were on your phone or running around in a way that a fall was more likely to happen.
The property owner may say you wore inappropriate footwear for the situation. For example, if you were wearing flip flops and the produce section of a grocery store typically has wet floors. The property owner may have a valid argument that you were partially negligent because of your choice of footwear.
Protecting Your Claim
Even if you are assigned some fault, you should still be able to recover compensation. However, you should be careful with what you say after the accident. The other side will be looking for things to help their case, such as admissions of fault after the accident. Simply saying you are sorry could be interpreted as an admission of some level of fault for what happened.
Keep your comments to a minimum and only discuss the situation in detail with your attorney, as these conversations are confidential. If you are concerned about your role in the accident, talk to your attorney. He or she can determine whether you are likely to share any fault for your accident. Do not assume you share any fault simply because of something the property owner or insurance company says.
Arizona’s Comparative Negligence Law
Arizona has a permissive comparative negligence law. Technically, you could be 99 percent to blame and still recover compensation. This is different from many other states where you can be barred from recovering compensation if you are more at fault than the other liable party.
It is important to note that your compensation award will be reduced based on your percentage of fault. In other words, a compensation award of $50,000 becomes $40,000 if you are found to be 20 percent at fault.
Call Today to Discuss Your Potential Claim
If you were injured in a slip and fall, one of the most important steps to take after seeking medical care is contacting an attorney to discuss possible legal action. You may be eligible to seek compensation for your damages. These cases are complex, so you need experienced legal help to build a strong argument.
At Phillips Law Group, not only is an initial consultation free, but there are also no upfront fees for our services. There is no financial risk in talking to us about your claim or in having us represent you. We do not get paid unless you get paid.
Give us a call today. We are ready to help. 1-800-706-3000
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