So You Slipped and Injured yourself in a Mall. Who Do You Sue ?
If you’re thinking about finding a slip and fall lawyer near you that can help you make a claim on a slip and fall injury, then you need to know the basics of what constitutes a legitimate case. This will save you from wasting time and money pursuing a losing claim.
You also need to know procedures, including who is legally responsible for your fall, the conditions required to make your claim legitimate, what conditions make a claim less feasible, and what steps you need to take to pursue a successful injury claim through your accident lawyer.
This is a guide to slip and fall accidents, injury claims you can make on them, and how to do it.
What is The definition of “slip and fall” ?
A slip and fall accident claim against a store or mall is only successful if the proprietor of the building can be proven negligent in its condition. By law, all stores and mall areas have to be maintained in a way that is safe for its customers to navigate.
A slip and fall accident can occur for a number of reasons. The floor could be wet from being cleaned without the proper hazard signage to let customers know.
The displays could be arranged in a hazardous way where people might trip. The lighting in the mall might be dim or poorly designed, making it easier for people to trip on things they couldn’t see. It could be as simple as a spilled coke in the walkway.
Whatever the reason, your claim for a slip and fall injury depends on a few things, all of which add up to whether the mall could be considered legally liable for the accident. The lawyers (or court, if it comes to that) have to decide if the mall had enough notice to reasonably be able to fix the hazards to help determine liability.
The success of your case depends on a few factors that you need to know in advance. Before you call a slip and fall lawyer, you should know enough to assess the strength of your case on your own.
What is Reasonable notice in a Slip and Fall ?
Notice in a slip and fall injury case is going to be the sticking point. It refers to whether the owner of the property in question had reasonable notice of a hazard that gave them enough time to remedy the situation. In other words, the notice requirement, as it is called, distinguishes uncontrollable accidents from negligence on the part of the property owner.
For example, evidence that the mall has not been inspected for safety for a long time could contribute to their negligent status. Or as another example, a rainy season in an area should prompt a mall proprietor to place or inspect mats by the doors of the mall so that the entrance doesn’t become slippery. The concept of the notice requirement is in place to protect stores from opportunistic customers that want to sue them for their injuries even when they were out of the mall’s control.
For example, a spilled drink can fulfill the notice requirement if it’s sitting in the aisle for a while and someone slips. The court will determine that the mall had enough time to see the hazard and do something about it to prevent injury to its patrons. However, spilling a drink and then slipping in it immediately, may not satisfy a slip and fall injury case.
Proving that the owner of the mall had a reasonable amount of notice of a hazard and did nothing about it can prove their negligence in your case.
What is Liability if I Slip and Fall in a Mall ?
The concept of reasonable notice factors into the mall’s liability, which is what your slip and fall injury attorney is going to try and prove in your defense. This means proving who was at fault for the injury. It makes slip and fall cases a little blurry sometimes. Liability factors into what’s called “reasonable caution,” which is a term that comes to the store’s or mall’s defense in an injury case like this. Reasonable caution is what normal people are supposed to exercise when they’re in a store or mall, based on their expectations and logical behavior.
For example, someone who trips over a potted plant display in a mall food court would have trouble making money off of a slip and fall injury claim. The reason is that people should be reasonably cautious enough to watch where they’re going when there are obvious displays in a fully lit food court. These displays being expected in a venue like that also adds to the mall’s defense, whereas a strange obstacle (a seasonal decoration for example), may not be as clear cut of a case.
The court has to decide who is reasonably at fault for the injury in order to accept or deny an injury claim. To succeed with your injury claim, your personal injury lawyer not only has to prove that the mall was negligent either in its practices or in the moment to prevent your injury but that you were exercising reasonable caution in the situation.
What is the Time limit on Filing a Slip and Fall Claim ?
The time limit or statute of limitations on your injury claim is important to consider for the state in which the injury occurred. It determines how much time you have to make your claim while still being able to claim benefits from it.
In Pennsylvania, for instance, this time limit is two years from the date of the injury. That’s how long you have to file your lawsuit to the civil court of Pennsylvania to make a legitimate claim. There are rare cases in which this deadline is extended, but for almost all personal injury cases, the civil court of your state will dismiss your case without compensation if you don’t meet its specific deadline.
Even if your claim is accepted, you may not get the full compensation you expect. This is because the court could rule that the accident was the result of “shared fault,” meaning that both you and the mall are partly to blame for your slip and fall injury. This will have a direct impact on your compensation. In Pennsylvania, the shared fault rule is applied to compensation by reducing the amount you are paid by the proportion of your fault in the injury as determined by the civil court. For instance, if the court rules that you are 20% to blame for the accident, you will receive 80% of the expected compensation.
Note that if the defendant’s insurance adjuster can reasonably determine that you are more than 50% at fault for the injury, you probably won’t be compensated for your injury. Even if this ends up not being the case, it’s more than likely that states with a shared fault or a comparative negligence rule will bring it up in a slip and fall injury case.
What are Extenuating Circumstances in a Slip and Fall ?
There are a few reasons that your case may be dismissed without any compensation made to you. You need to know these reasons in case they apply to you so that you can stop the process of your injury claim before it starts to cost you.
These circumstances all relate to your behavior and could clear the mall of liability if you sustained your injury while you were doing something you weren’t supposed to or in a way that makes you more than 50% liable for the injury.
Such circumstances that the property owner or their attorney may bring up in their defense could include the layout of the mall itself. For instance, if you sustained a fall while wandering into an employees-only section of the building, you probably won’t be granted compensation for your injury. Any injury sustained when you venture to an area that the mall could not reasonably have prepared to be safe for you to visit probably cannot be claimed.
You might have been using your phone when you slipped and fell, according to witnesses. This could also damage your claim since it relaxes the burden on the mall to make its spaces safe by proving that you were not exercising reasonable caution when walking around. This also applies to flimsy or dangerous shoes that caused you to trip.
Finally, this applies to a circumstance in which the hazard was already noticed by the mall and cordoned off by signs or cones. If you ignored a wet floor sign and slipped and injured yourself, you probably won’t be liable for compensation.
If I Slip in a Mall Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer ?
Many statutes and extenuating circumstances work in tandem to determine who is at fault in a slip and fall case. Your personal injury attorney will review the case with you to determine if you were exercising reasonable caution when you had your accident and whether the mall was provably negligent either in responding to a hazard or in making the mall safe to visit in the first place.
By filing the proper claims in the allotted time, you can try and receive compensation for your slip and fall injury claim. Just review the limitations of what defines these cases with your accident lawyer before you fill out the official paperwork so you can be sure that your case is worth pursuing.