Can My Conduct Prevent My Slip and Fall Case
More than 1 million people require a trip to the emergency room due to a slip and fall accident, and they lead to more workers’ compensation claims than any other type of accident. Accidents are a fact of life, but that doesn’t make them any easier to deal with, especially when you are seriously injured in the process. When you have a slip and fall, it can cost you significantly in medical expenses and time missed from work. If the incident occurs on someone else’s property, including at work, the property owner may bear responsibility, but can your actions prevent you from recovering damages? In a word: Yes.
The Impact of Connecticut’s Comparative Negligence Law
Slip and fall cases rest on the concept of negligence. For property owners to be held responsible for injuries on their property, they must have failed to take reasonable actions to prevent dangerous conditions on their property or fix them when they occur. However, even if the property owner was negligent, the injured party may also be found at fault for the accident, reducing or eliminating how much the property owner must pay in damages.
What Is Connecticut’s Negligence Rule?
If you slip and fall at a place of business or on a residential property and receive injuries that require medical attention or lead to lost time at work, you have a right to file a claim to recover your losses. Likely, the insurance company will not just hand over the money to compensate, and you may find it necessary to fight a legal battle to regain what you’ve lost.
When slip and fall cases land in the court system, the defendants in these cases try to establish that the plaintiff’s actions resulted in the accident. If they succeed, according to Connecticut law, the injured party may be entirely on the hook for the damages. The state has what is known as a modified comparative negligence rule.
How Is Compensation Determined?
The amount that you get from the property owner, or the insurance company, depends on the degree of fault the judge attributes to each party. The judge examines the facts of the case and the arguments presented by each side to determine which party is more responsible for your injuries. The amount you receive is directly proportional to the percentage of fault for which the property owner is held liable in the accident.
If the court finds that you were 30% at fault for the slip and fall accident, then you are entitled to 70% of the damages. For example, if you were running on a sidewalk on a wintery day, and you slipped on an icy sidewalk in front of a business, the court may decide that you were partially at fault because you were not taking reasonable care to prevent the fall, regardless of the property owner’s actions.
The judge decides that your decision to run in those conditions made you 30% liable for the accident and the property owner 70% at fault. The court awards $40,000 in damages for lost income, medical payments and pain and suffering. Of that amount, you would receive $28,000 in compensation or 70% of the total award.
Is There a Threshold for Comparative Negligence?
The modified comparative negligence rule establishes a threshold of liability. This threshold favors the property owner, making it imperative that you have someone representing you who has the experience and is aggressive in proving your case.
If the judge decides that you are 51% responsible for your accident, you don’t receive a dime for the losses you incur from your slip and fall. What this means is that a property owner can carry half the blame for the accident but bear none of the financial responsibility for the outcome.
The Burden of Proof
As with any case that goes before the courts, the plaintiff carries the burden of proving liability. Even in the most obvious of circumstances, proof is seldom easy. To determine that the property owner was liable for your slip and fall, you need to establish that dangerous situation or circumstances on the property caused your accident. If, for instance, you slipped and fell only because you were engaged in horseplay, the property owner would not be held liable for your fall.
Once you establish this, you need to also prove one of the three following circumstances:
- The property owner or someone else on the property (such as an employee or household member) is responsible for the conditions existing in the first place. The individual may have created unsafe conditions or failed to repair or remove hazards.
- The responsible party knew that the dangerous condition existed, yet the individual didn’t do anything to fix it.
- The responsible party did not take reasonable steps to ensure the property’s safety, meaning that defendants cannot simply claim that they were ignorant of the situation and get out of their responsibility.
Proving any of these three is not necessarily clear-cut. An experienced attorney understands what factors the court considers when deciding responsibility.
Do You Have To Go to Court To Receive Compensation?
Heading into the courtroom is generally the last step in the process. Initially, you file a claim with the insurance company. If you do not receive a satisfactory result, you may need to file a legal case. In doing so, the property owner and the insurance company may be motivated to settle out of court, particularly if they know you hired a lawyer to represent you.
The Statute of Limitations
If you wait too long to file a lawsuit, you could be out of luck. Connecticut’s statute of limitations law says that you must file within two years of the accident. The clock starts ticking the day the accident occurs, making it crucial to follow through with each step of the process quickly and not wait too long for the insurance company to decide your claim.
At Gould Injury Law, we understand how important it is for you to receive compensation for your losses. We begin fighting for you on day one, aggressively pursuing a favorable outcome while you focus on healing from your injuries. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation.