Slip and fall injuries are more common than most people realize. In fact, one study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than 1 million Americans suffer an injury attributable to a slip and fall or a trip and fall accident each year. Many of these injuries are severe, and some of them prove fatal.
Those who are fortunate enough to survive their slip and fall accident can be left with extensive damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. It can be hard to find a way to cope with these damages in the aftermath of an accident, but these victims may be able to recoup compensation for the harm caused to them. Their ability to successfully do so, though, depends a lot on their classification.
Victim classification for premises liability purposes
To succeed on a premises liability a claim, a victim has to show that a duty of care was owed to him or her, and that the duty owed was breached. But what kind of duty of care applies in a particular case? That really depends on how the victim is classified while he or she was on the premises. Let’s take a look at those classifications:
- Trespasser: Generally speaking, property owners don’t owe a duty of care to adult trespassers. This means that a property owner probably won’t be required to provide notice and warnings of dangerous property conditions to these individuals.
- Licensees: Licensees typically include individuals like social guests, including friends and family, at a residence. A property owner owes these individuals a reasonable duty of care, which means that he or she should inform those on his or her property of dangerous property conditions that the property owner is aware of. These hazards are usually those that aren’t easily discoverable by those who have been welcomed onto the property.
- Invitees: Invitees usually include individuals who enter businesses as patrons. Businesses owe these individuals a reasonable duty of care, but that duty includes not just informing invitees of dangerous property conditions, but also to keep the property safe and take action to remedy those conditions.
- Children: Property owners may owe a certain duty of care to children depending on a number of factors, including whether the child in question was lured onto the property by something attractive to him or her, such as a swimming pool.
Building your premises liability case
Regardless of which category you might fall into, if you’ve been harmed in a slip and fall accident then you need to know how to build your case. This means gathering evidence and putting that evidence to work for you. Here are a few things that you can do to protect your claim:
- Take pictures of the dangerous property condition
- Take pictures of the surrounding area to capture the lighting, and warning or notices (or lack thereof), and any other characteristics that may have affected the safety of the property
- Gather names and contact information for witnesses
- Keep track of your medical and employment records that demonstrate how your injuries affected you
- Be prepared to subpoena records from the business in question (if you were an invitee) and take depositions
Don’t face your claim alone
Premises liability cases can be complex and confusing. But with so much on the line, you owe it to yourself to put forth the best legal claim possible. After all, that might be the only way that you can recover the compensation you need and deserve to move past your accident and focus on your recovery and the future ahead.