Winning a slip and fall case means proving that your injury occurred due to negligence on the part of the property owner. Slipping and falling on someone else's property isn't an automatic assumption of negligence and guilt. In fact, the property owner may be able to avoid some liability by showing that you were also at fault.
Here's a look at what comparative negligence could mean for your case:
What Exactly is Comparative Negligence?
Comparative negligence is a term used to refer to shared responsibility for an accident. If the defendant can prove that you were partially at fault for the accident, that's considered comparative negligence because you both contributed to your injury. As the plaintiff, you don't have to prove that you were not negligent. Instead, the defendant needs to prove that you were acting in a unsafe manner or that you were directly at fault for your own injury.
Is Comparative Negligence All or Nothing?
Especially in a slip and fall case, comparative negligence presents a grey area in which you may both be at fault. Unlike the absolute determination of negligence or not for the defendant, comparative negligence can be determined in percentage amounts.
For example, if the property owner knew that the hazard was there, didn't take the steps to fix it and didn't warn you about it, but you were trespassing on the property, you'd be found partially at fault for your own injury. The courts would then determine what percentage of responsibility your actions would carry, and your benefit award would be reduced by that amount. If you are found to have been half at fault, the courts will award you half of the expected financial award for your case.
What are the Forms of Comparative Negligence?
There are a few different forms of comparative negligence, and understanding what your state uses is the first step. Your slip and fall attorney can help you understand what the laws are where you live, but the two primary forms are called pure and modified comparative negligence.
Modified comparative negligence is the most commonly used, and is marked by restriction that the plaintiff's negligence must be found to be less than that of the defendant in order for an award to be issued. If you are found to be 50-percent negligent in the accident, you will not receive an award of any kind in states that rely on modified comparative negligence.
Pure comparative negligence is not as common. It will reduce the awarded damages by the percentage of the plaintiff's negligence no matter how much it is. In these cases, you'll still receive an award even if you are 75-percent negligent.
As you can see, it's important to understand the role that your actions will play in the determination of negligence and fault after a slip and fall injury. Talk with your attorney to see how strong your case is. To learn more, contact a company like Dorian, Goldstein, Wisniewski & Orchinik, PC with any questions you have.