Slip-and-fall injuries on business, commercial, and private property occur frequently. Sometimes slip-and-fall accident victims do not realize that they may be entitled to compensation from the property owner or lessee in some circumstances.
Whether financial reimbursement is available depends on application of legal rules that apply to premises liability cases. In our personal injury practice at the Salina, Kansas law firm of Hampton & Royce, we assist clients with all types of premises liability cases, including slip-and-fall cases.
While a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident sometimes causes only minor injuries, very serious injuries can result. Some injuries are even life threatening or cause permanent disability.
Many different conditions cause slip-and-fall accidents. Examples of common situations that result in injuries on someone else’s property include:
Slip-and-fall accidents can subject the property owner to liability whether they happen inside or outside a building. As long as the accident occurred on a part of the property open to visitors or customers, the property owner may be legally responsible.
General rules of personal injury law apply in premises liability cases. The rules require establishing that a person was negligent in order to hold them legally responsible for injuries. Negligence involves a failure to use the care that a reasonable and prudent person would use under the same or similar circumstances.
A property owner has a duty to keep the premises reasonably safe for invited visitors and customers. Violation or breach of the duty constitutes negligence.
To show that a property owner is liable for slip-and-fall injuries, the injured individual must demonstrate that the owner’s negligence caused the victim’s injuries. A property owner can be negligent in several different ways, including circumstances in which:
Whether negligence occurred in your accident depends entirely on the facts and circumstances of the accident. Talking with an experienced personal injury attorney is the only way to get an accurate evaluation of your situation.
Proving the property owner’s negligence is only part of establishing the right to compensation for a slip-and-fall injury. Kansas statutes include a comparative negligence law, under which an injured person's own contributory negligence can reduce or completely bar compensation.
The Kansas statute that establishes the comparative negligence rule for personal injury cases in the state, found at Kansas Statutes, Section 60-258(a), provides:
Effect of contributory negligence. The contributory negligence of a party in a civil action does not bar that party or its legal representative from recovering damages for negligence resulting in death, personal injury, property damage or economic loss, if that party's negligence was less than the causal negligence of the party or parties against whom a claim is made, but the award of damages to that party must be reduced in proportion to the amount of negligence attributed to that party.
Under the comparative negligence standard, contributory negligence of the injured person reduces the amount of compensation recoverable from the negligent party proportionately, as long as the individual was less than 50% responsible. If the injured person is more than 50% at fault, no compensation is recoverable.
For example, if the injured individual is 20% responsible, the amount of compensation is reduced by 20% — if damages are $10,000, the property owner pays $8,000 in compensation. If the injured person is 51% responsible, no damages are recoverable.
For the rule to apply, the injured person’s contributory negligence must be a cause of the accident. Examples of situations in which contributory negligence can be an issue include:
Other situations may constitute contributory negligence as well. Whether the rule of comparative negligence applies in your case depends entirely on the facts and circumstances of the accident. Only an experienced premises liability attorney can advise you on how the rule will apply to you.
If a case goes to trial, the jury determines questions about negligence, contributory negligence, and the percentage fault of each party. Before a case goes to trial, attorneys for both parties will factor those issues into discussions about a potential settlement amount. Evidence of each party’s fault will affect the settlement offer from the property owner’s attorney, as well as what amount the injured person's attorney considers an acceptable settlement offer.
If you suffered serious injuries in a slip and fall on someone else’s property, consulting with an experienced premises liability attorney is essential. You should not negotiate with the property owner’s insurance company on your own. Their only goal is to pay you the smallest possible amount. If you talk with an Insurance adjuster, you could make statements that hurt your claim.
Your attorney will evaluate all the facts and circumstances of your accident and advise you on whether there is a legal basis for claiming compensation from the property owner. If there is a claim to pursue, your attorney handles all the negotiations with the insurance company, while you focus on recovering from your injuries. In the event a trial becomes necessary, the lawyer represents you in court.
At the Salina, Kansas law firm Hampton & Royce, L.C., we assist clients throughout the state with personal injury matters, including slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall accidents and other types of premises liability cases. Contact us to schedule a consultation to talk with us about your accident.