Slip-and-fall injuries can be serious. According to the Centers for Disease Control, medical costs from falls cost $50 billion in 2015. When a slip-and-fall accident occurs on public or private property, the injured party may be eligible to receive compensation if the property owner was at fault for the accident. However, if you notice the hazard before the accident, it can impact how much and whether you are entitled to compensation.
How Your Knowledge of the Hazard Impacts Your Claim
In Connecticut, winter can be treacherous. Snow and ice create hazardous conditions for anyone who ventures outside. If you’ve experienced the winter months here, you are aware of the potential hazards. You may still have to cross the parking lot to get to the store or perform your outside work duties. Though winter weather provides a great example of when you may know about hazardous conditions yet still have a slip-and-fall accident, it isn’t the only time these circumstances can occur.
It is your responsibility to take a reasonable amount of care to prevent a slip and fall. You should also notify business owners or managers if you notice dangerous conditions. If dangerous conditions exist at your worksite, you should notify your supervisor. However, if you slip and fall because of the negligence of the property owner, you still may be entitled to compensation.
How Connecticut’s Comparative Negligence Law Works
In this state, the property owner isn’t necessarily absolved of responsibility just because you knew about the hazard before you were injured. When you file a claim in Connecticut, you and the property owner may share some degree of fault, which then impacts how much you receive in compensation for your injuries.
The state’s modified comparative negligence law establishes liability based on whether the actions of the plaintiff and the property owner were reasonable or negligent. If you took reasonable care to prevent the accident, but it still happened, then your degree of liability may not be high. If the property owner is more than 50% responsible for the accident, then you would receive compensation.
What the Components Are in a Slip-and-Fall Claim
In a slip-and-fall claim, the insurance company (or the court) considers several factors to determine how much responsibility each party has for the accident.
Property Owner’s Duty of Care
Connecticut’s property liability rules establish that property owners owe invited visitors a duty of care. They are required to ensure their properties are safe. Generally, this means that they need to perform regular inspections on property conditions, repair damages or put barricades in place to prevent accidents.
Property owners are held liable if they know of the unsafe conditions and do not repair them or warn guests about them. The caveat to this rule is that the owner does not have the same duty of care to trespassers, except in circumstances where the property owner should reasonably expect children to trespass on the property.
Unreasonably Dangerous Hazards
Another aspect of a claim for a slip-and-fall accident is establishing that conditions on the property were unreasonably dangerous. As the claimant, it is up to you to prove that property conditions were unsafe, and, further, that these conditions directly contributed to your accident and subsequent injuries.
Lack of Intervention
To receive compensation, you also must demonstrate that the property owner or tenant knew the conditions existed and did nothing about it. Here, the concept of reasonableness comes into play. You don’t have to prove that the owner actually knew, just that they should have known about the dangerous conditions.
It is the owner’s responsibility to inspect the property regularly and to anticipate likely and potential hazards. Therefore, the property owner cannot simply claim ignorance to avoid responsibility. On the other hand, the property owner should have sufficient time to discover the situation and take care of it.
In Connecticut, for instance, property owners have leeway when it comes to shoveling their sidewalks and steps during an ongoing storm and immediately following the end of the storm. They are not required to clear snow and ice during the storm and have time after one ends to take care of the removal.
Damages From the Accident
In holding a property owner responsible for your slip-and-fall accident, you also need to demonstrate that you received damages as a result of the accident. Damages include injuries that require medical intervention, loss of income, and, sometimes, pain and suffering. The property owner is not required to compensate you if you only received a couple of bruises from your slip-and-fall.
In addition to establishing that the property owner was responsible for the conditions that led to the accident, the insurance company and the court also consider your role. If you knew about the accident, did you take reasonable care to ensure your safety? If you could have avoided the situation but did not, you may be held responsible for a significant percentage of the accident and, therefore, your injuries.
What Your Claim Is Worth
What your claim is worth depends on the specific circumstances of your case. The total cost of your medical bills, missed time at work, and out-of-pocket expenses all contribute. For more serious cases, anticipated losses are also considered, in addition to pain and suffering. When the insurance company or the courts determine your claim’s worth, it does not mean you will receive the full amount.
If you knew of the hazard before your accident, you will likely bear some responsibility, even if the property owner is also found liable. If your responsibility for the accident is less than 50%, then you are entitled to compensation. The amount you receive is based on the percentages. However, if it is determined that you are 50% responsible or more, you are not entitled to any compensation.
If you’ve been involved in a slip-and-fall accident involving a known hazard, don’t give up! The attorneys at Gould Injury Law can help you fight for fair compensation, even if you knew of the dangerous conditions before your accident. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation.