In a claim for personal injury, a plaintiff claims that they have sustained an injury due to an act or failure to act by the defendant. A court may award the plaintiff money damages for personal injury in response. A personal injury damages a plaintiff’s emotional health, physical health, or both.
Mental health injuries include emotional pain and anguish sustained by an accident. Physical injuries include those to the organs, limbs, or other parts of the anatomy. It is important to note that injury sustained by a personal injury plaintiff does not need to manifest itself instantly, as it may develop over time.
There are several different types of events or accidents which may form the basis of a personal injury claim, including:
- Accidents and injuries;
- Construction accidents;
- Dog bites and animal attacks;
- Defective products (class action);
- Elder abuse;
- Nursing home abuse;
- Premises liability;
- Product liability injury;
- Toxic exposure (class action);
- Unsafe drugs (class action); and
- Wrongful death;
A personal injury may occur intentionally, such as when a defendant deliberately injures a victim, or intends to commit an act that results in injury to another person. A personal injury may also occur unintentionally. If an unintentional injury is the result of someone’s negligence, the plaintiff may file a lawsuit based on the negligent behavior. Automobile accidents, slip and fall accidents, and injuries sustained from medical malpractice, are examples of negligent personal injury claims.
In a negligence personal injury claim, the plaintiff claims that a defendant injured the plaintiff as a result of breaching a duty of care that the defendant owed to the plaintiff. The duty of care that is owed to a plaintiff depends on the circumstances. In general, a defendant is under a legal duty to exercise the degree of care that an ordinary person would use under a particular set of facts.
Whether a duty of care to a plaintiff exists depends upon the foreseeability, or predictability, of harm that may result if the duty is not exercised. The test for whether a plaintiff is owed a duty of care asks whether an average person, in the position of the defendant, could foresee that the type of injury sustained by the plaintiff was likely to take place.
What Is A Slip And Fall Accident?
A slip and fall accident refers to a variety of personal injury claims that occur when someone slips or falls on another’s property, due to some kind of dangerous condition being present. The dangerous condition could be nearly anything, such as poor lighting or broken handrails on a staircase.
When someone is injured in a slip and fall accident, they could have grounds for a premise liability claim. Premise liability claims are a specific type of personal injury claim in which a claimant seeks to hold a property owner responsible for the injuries that they received on their land. Generally speaking, homeowners, businesses, and public entities such as cities are all subject to premise liability laws.
Not only do property owners have a duty to protect people against dangerous conditions on their premises, if they fail to do so, the injured party may be able to bring a claim against them. In such cases, it may be possible for the injured party to recover damages for any injuries sustained.
Slip and fall laws vary from state to state, but there are some common legal grounds that all statutes take into consideration. An example of this would be how a person generally must prove that the property owner was negligent, which requires proof that:
- The property owner owed the person a duty to protect or warn against dangerous conditions;
- The property owner beached this duty; and
- An injury occurred as a result of the property owner’s breach.
What Is Slippery When Wet Sign Claims?
A “Slippery When Wet” sign is a sign that business owners or employees must place in order to warn people that they can slip and fall on the floor when it is wet. A common slippery when wet sign is:
- Shaped like a tent; and
- Has an icon of a person falling with red lettering, warning people who pass by of the potential danger.
Whenever a floor is wet, the business must post a sign stating as much; when there is no sign, the business is more likely to be held liable if injury occurs. These signs are generally posted directly on top of the slippery area, in order to discourage patrons or visitors from walking on or into that area.
A slip and fall claim is filed under a charge of negligence. To reiterate, negligence can occur when a business has prior knowledge of dangerous conditions, but does not fix the condition that can harm its patrons and customers. The elements that must be present in order to fulfill a negligence charge include:
- Duty of Care: The business owner generally has a duty to ensure that the floors in their establishment are safe, as well as to warn when they are wet or slippery;
- Defendant Breached the Duty: If the business owner fails to provide proper warnings regarding wet or slippery floors, they could face liability if a patron or visitor falls;
- The Defendant’s Breach Resulted in Negligence: The business owner’s breach or failure must be the direct cause of the plaintiff’s injuries; and
- The Plaintiff Was Injured By the Defendant’s Negligence: The injuries must be real and measurable; meaning, injuries that cannot be proven to exist do not qualify for a damages award. The court will measure the monetary cost of the injuries by using medical bills and other items of evidence
An injured party may be eligible for a damages award if they are successful on their claim, which is intended to cover losses such as:
- Hospital and medical expenses;
- Pain and suffering; and
- Lost wages.
If the victim has lost some ability to generate income in the future because of their fall injury, they may also receive compensation for that.
A Slippery When Wet sign must be posted in a highly visible area, close to the place where the wet area occurred. If the sign is not considered to be close enough to the wet area, or if the sign does not properly alert a patron to the wet area, it may be possible to win a slip and fall case even when a sign was posted. Additionally, if the writing or images on the sign are faded or difficult to read, that could result in liability for the business establishment as well.
When Is The Business Not At Fault For A Slippery When Wet Sign Claim?
There are instances in which a business is not responsible for a slip and fall case, even if there is no sign posted. It is imperative to keep in mind the length of time between when the floor was wet, and when the sign was posted. An example of this would be how if the floor became wet at 5 p.m., and the patron fell at 5:01 p.m., there was not enough time for the business to reasonably be expected to post a sign.
Another possible defense would be if the injured person has assumed the risk of their own injury; meaning, the person knew about the wet or slippery conditions, and understood that there was a danger of falling involved yet still continued to walk in that area.
Prior knowledge is another important element in a slip and fall case. What this means is that the business must have the knowledge of the conditions and choose not to act on it, in order to be held responsible for negligence. If both sides are in agreement, it may be possible to reach a slip and fall settlement instead of going to court over the issue.
Do I Need A Lawyer For Help With A Slippery When Wet Sign Claim?
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, you should speak to a slip and fall lawyer. Your attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options according to your state’s specific laws.
Additionally, an attorney will also be able to represent you in court, as needed, should resolution necessitate legal action.