What is a Slip & Fall Case?
A slip & fall case is exactly like it sounds – it is a injury that occurs when someone slips and falls on someone else’s property. In Missouri, slip & fall cases fall under the general category of premises liability cases as a slip & fall case is simply one of many premises liability cases. In slip & fall cases, the usual liable party is the owner of the premises. On some occassions, the person who caused the dangerous condition may also be held liable.
Causes, Surfaces, & Premises
Slip & fall cases occur in a wide variety of settings and locations. Although there is no specific requirement of what an injured party slips or falls over, some of the more traditional slip & fall cases in Missouri involve:
- Icey city sidewalk
- Icey deck
- Icey sidewalk
- Icey private driveway
- Icey parking lot
- Icey stairs
- Wet floor
- Wet lobby
- Wet stairs
- Wet concrete
- Outdoor holes
- Indoor holes
- Cracks in streets
- Cracks in city streets
- Cracks in driveways
- Cracks in parking lots
- Hidden objects
- Loose gravel
- Loose sidewalk
- Snow on sidewalks
- Snow on city sidewalks
- Snow in parking lots
- Snow in driveways
- Snow in city streets
- Snow in streets
Why is the Landowner Liable?
Missouri law requires that landowners maintain their property in a safe manner. This means that, depending on the situation the landowner has to either warn of dangerous conditions or make the property free of dangerous conditions. Failure to do so will result in liability against the landowner.
The level of protection from dangerous or unsafe conditions that a landowner owes to an injured party depends on the status of that injured party. In Missouri, there are three different statuses that ultimately have a large impact on premises liability cases. These statuses are:
Tresspasser: One who comes onto the land without permission from the landowner
Licensee: One who enters onto the land with the landowner’s permission for the entrants own business as opposed to the landowner’s business AND
Invitee: One who enters onto the land in response to an invitation from the landowner.
Insurance Company Tactics
Most landowners have either homeowners insurance or a general commercial insurance policy that covers slip & fall injuries. When you are involved in a slip & fall accident, an insurance company will get involved. When dealing with an insurance company, it is important to note the following:
INSURANCE COMPANIES ARE NOT ON YOUR SIDE
When insurance companies find out about a potential slip & fall injury claim, they will contact you immediately. They will ask you to provide a statement of what happened and they will ask you to provide them with all of your medical records and bills related to the accident. At first, these insurance companies will appear to be on your side and may come across as someone who is trying to help you get through your injury. Despite this, after complying with all of their demands, the insurance company will offer you a settlement which is substantially inadequate. Most of the time, the offer doesn’t even cover your medical bills, let alone your pain and suffering.
Insurance companies will employ many different tactics to try to convince you that your claim isn’t what you think it is. One of these tactics is to tell the injured party that they contributed to the accident. This is called comparative fault.
Comparative fault is a doctrine recognized by Missouri law which essentially allows fault or blame to be placed upon the injured party. Specifically, juries are told that if they see fit, they may assign a percentage of fault to an injured party based upon the facts of the case. For example, a jury may find that an injured party’s actions, although not the main reason, still contributed to the accident occurring and as such will assign fault to the injured party. This assignment of fault will reduce your award in proportion to the percentage assigned.
Insurance companies are well aware of this doctrine and will often times abuse this doctrine in an attempt to make the injured party believe they played a role in the accident. Insurance companies will make a determination for themselves as to what percentage of blame is to be placed upon the injured driver. For example, insurance companies will allows assign a significant percentage of blame to an injured driver who was injured in an accident due to being cut off by another driver. Despite following all applicable rules and regulations, insurance companies simply think being cut off by another driver is the injured party’s fault. Of course, this doesn’t follow simple logic, but that is how insurance companies think.
Why You Need to Hire a Lawyer
When an attorney gets involved in a slip & fall claim, insurance companies take notice. They begin to realize that they can no longer take advantage of an injured person who is in a bad situation. Insurance companies know that an attorney has the ability and resources to properly investigate an accident. Likewise, an attorney understands all the facets of a personal injury claim giving you a distinct advantage against the insurance company. All in all, when an attorney gets involved, the insurance company knows that the injured party means business.
What We Can Do For You
The Law Office of Steve Slough routinely handles slip & fall cases. The firm prides itself on standing up to insurance companies and fighting for construction accident victims. We have experience in dealing with insurance companies and know how to quickly discredit the theories they use to deny your claim.
If you have been injured by someone else, please feel free to call our office for a free consultation.