Slip-and-fall commercial property claims: How to prove liability

Have you had an accident that was nor your fault on a commercial property? Find out how you can prove liability.

Slip-and-fall accident claims often work their way through the courts. Many involve settlements. Often, the plaintiff and defendant can work out a financial agreement that makes sense and prevents a long court battle. 

Proving liability becomes crucial with slip-and-fall claims if you progress to the point where you’re proceeding to the trial phase. How can you do that, though? We’ll discuss some key points related to this concept in this article.

What does liability mean?

First, let’s make sure you understand what we mean when we use the term “liability.” In legal parlance, liability means someone caused something. In personal injury cases, this concept remains vital. 

If you feel you can hold a person or entity liable for something, and you can prove that in court, you will likely collect some money through a jury’s verdict, or else the defendant might settle. However, if the plaintiff feels they didn’t cause your injury, or they think you can’t prove they did, they will usually fight rather than pay you. 

In rare cases, they might let the trial continue till the jury’s verdict. However, this only happens very infrequently. 

What do slip-and-fall claims involve?

As for slip-and-fall claims, they usually involve stores or other places of business. If you visit such an establishment, and you slip and fall, hurting yourself, you might have to miss work for a while. You may have some medical bills if you pulled a muscle or sustained some other soft tissue injury. Maybe you broke a bone. You might also hit your head and sustain a concussion.

In these cases, you might sue the establishment. If you feel they should have notified you of unsafe conditions, but they didn’t, you may have a case. You must usually consult a lawyer and get their opinion. If they feel you can probably prove negligence by the entity that runs an establishment, you might move forward with the lawsuit. 

However, you may also sue a homeowner if you slipped and fell going down their front steps or something similar. In such an instance, you must usually establish the owner knew about unsafe conditions but ignored them, causing your injury.

The standard of care

In these cases, there’s something called the standard of care. Basically, it means there’s a certain level of responsibility a person has to maintain their property. There’s also a particular level of responsibility an entity has to maintain their commercial establishment. 

The care standard with private and public property varies, though. Normally, there’s a higher care standard that a commercial property must meet. That’s because, presumably, they welcome and encourage visitors. That’s not necessarily the case with private property such as a residence. 

How can you prove what you say happened?

You might feel certain, as the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit, that some entity harmed you through negligence. Maybe you slipped and fell while in a grocery store, a hardware store, a hospital, or some other location. 

However, just because you feel sure negligence caused your injury, that does not mean you can easily prove it. Understandably, most businesses will fight you if you sue them. They don’t want the negative publicity that such an admission will bring, and they don’t want to give up that money, either.

You might prove what you say happened if you can produce video evidence. It’s something that always helps your case, assuming it corroborates your story. If video evidence you produce proves liability beyond a reasonable doubt, then you’ll likely have some money coming your way.

What if no video evidence exists?

If you hire a lawyer to help you with your personal injury case, they likely will have investigators on their payroll. These individuals can usually find video evidence of the event, if any exists. They might use store camera footage, traffic camera footage, or even social media videos in some instances.

If they can’t find any video evidence, they might use eyewitness testimony. If you slipped and fell, and someone saw the whole thing, that should help your cause. 

The investigators might come up with a police report that indicates you told the truth. They may use a medical report as well. The more of this kind of evidence they can come up with, the more likely you will induce a settlement offer or win your case if it goes all the way to a jury’s verdict.

What other ways can you prove your version of events?

If none of the evidence we’ve mentioned so far exists, you might use other types. For instance, maybe there’s a logbook from the premises where you slipped and fell. If there’s a guard on duty, they should record anything unusual in their logbook. That would certainly include a slip-and-fall incident. 

You might enter that logbook entry into evidence at trial. Your lawyer’s investigator may also give you relevant weather reports. Maybe the weather played into how you hurt yourself. If so, the weather report from that day could be valuable evidence that supports your story and version of events. 

If you can’t prove liability in any of these ways, then you might not win your lawsuit. If that happens, you needn’t pay your lawyer, assuming you agreed on a contingency payment plan. These plans stipulate you don’t pay your attorney anything if they don’t win your case. 

This incentivizes your lawyer to win your case. They will probably do their utmost to win, not just for the money but also because it bolsters their reputation. 

If a lawyer won’t take on your lawsuit, and you know they do plenty of personal injury cases, it could mean they do not feel you can prove liability. They might sympathize with you, but they’ll also want hard evidence.

The more of it you can find, or the more their investigators can gather, the better the chances they’ll take your case, and the better the chances you’ll prove the commercial establishment’s liability as well.